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    Curious Story of Cody’s Wish
Curious Story of Cody’s Wish
Cody Dorman. Source: The New York Times

Curious Story of Cody’s Wish

One of the most heart-warming and inspirational stories in horse racing is the profound connection between the Breeders’ Cup champion, Cody’s Wish, and the teenager who shares his name, Cody Dorman. Their story, rooted in resilience and mutual support, continues to touch the hearts of many.

Cody Dorman, who has been battling Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome—a rare genetic disorder—will be attending his first Derby Day to witness his equine counterpart, Cody’s Wish, make his five-year-old debut in the Churchill Downs Stakes on May 6, during the Kentucky Derby undercard. This event is a significant moment for Cody, who has found strength and inspiration in his namesake horse.

The Unbreakable Bond

When asked by an NBC interviewer how Cody’s Wish has influenced his life amidst the challenges of his condition, Cody, 17, used his tablet to communicate that the horse had, in a way, saved his life. This remarkable bond began when Cody, through a Make-A-Wish Foundation initiative, met the then-foal Cody’s Wish at Godolphin’s Gainsborough Farm. Despite initial concerns about how the horse would react to Cody’s wheelchair, the young colt approached Cody calmly and nestled his head into Cody's lap. This connection was undeniable from the start and deepened with each visit. Despite concerns about how a young horse might react to a wheelchair, the colt, later named Cody’s Wish, showed an immediate and gentle connection with Cody. This meeting marked the start of a story that would inspire many.

Cody Dorman and Cody’s Wish. Source: America's Best Racing
Cody Dorman and Cody’s Wish. Source: America's Best Racing

Kelly Dorman, Cody's father, described their unique interaction as a silent yet palpable communication. "They have this unspoken language; you can't hear it, but you can definitely feel it," he explained. The bond has never wavered, with Cody’s Wish acknowledging Cody at every encounter.

Cody’s Wish has never lost a race with Cody in attendance, including a dramatic win at the Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Keeneland, where he narrowly defeated Cyberknife. This victory was shared with a worldwide audience and led to an emotional reunion in the winner’s circle, highlighting the deep connection between the horse and Cody. The impact of their story has reached beyond the racetrack, inspiring families facing similar challenges.

Rider Junior Alvarado and his wife, Kelly, have often reminded their children of Cody's perseverance in the face of adversity. Alvarado noted, "Considering everything Cody has endured, it’s incredible how he remains so strong every day." 

Michael Banahan, Godolphin USA's director of bloodstock, highlighted the practical and sentimental reasons behind continuing Cody’s Wish's racing career into his fifth year under the tutelage of Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. Banahan believed the horse still had more to offer and did not want this incredible story to end. "We saw a great opportunity for another big year by bringing him back," he said, noting Cody’s Wish’s lightly raced history and potential.

Cody Dorman views Cody’s Wish as his best friend, a relationship that has brought significant positive changes in Cody’s life. This friendship has helped Cody combat depression, celebrate milestones, and stay motivated in his therapy and schoolwork. Cody, who attended his Junior Prom in a 1955 Chevy Bel Air, is now celebrated for his resilience and zest for life, attributes that were evident as he was accompanied by an NBC Sports camera crew.

Bill Mott, reflecting on the ongoing story, remarked that it’s particularly special to Cody Dorman, providing him with something to look forward to every time Cody’s Wish races. The horse’s determination, showcased when he recovered from a slow start to win the Dirt Mile, mirrors the tenacity Cody has shown since infancy, surviving open-heart surgery at just five weeks old.

Cody’s Wish. Source: America's Best Racing
Cody’s Wish. Source: America's Best Racing

Junior Alvarado, recounting his experience riding Cody’s Wish, shared that he could feel the horse’s determination in the final stretch of the race. Alvarado remarked on Cody's Wish’s will to win, equating it to his own desire to succeed in the race.

Now, the question remains whether Cody’s Wish can continue to excel. The horse is the favourite in the Churchill Downs Stakes, and Mott has meticulously planned his schedule to potentially lead back to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Park later in the year.

Reflecting on Cody’s Wish’s previous triumphs and the unique bond between him and Cody, it becomes clear why so many are inspired by their story. This bond has not only uplifted Cody but has also offered hope and joy to countless others who follow their journey.

In the following years, as Cody faced personal challenges, including the loss of his grandfather and health setbacks, his bond with Cody’s Wish grew stronger. Visits to the farm and the horse’s subsequent successes on the track provided Cody with a source of joy and a reason to stay positive.

Truthful Prognosis

Cody’s Wish’s racing career began promisingly in 2020. Cody had predicted that the horse would not win until he saw him race. True to his word, Cody’s Wish won his first race at Churchill Downs with Cody in attendance. This marked the beginning of a remarkable winning streak whenever Cody was present.

The horse’s most notable victories include wins at the G3 Westchester, the G1 Forego, and the emotional G1 Dirt Mile at the Breeders’ Cup, which left spectators and connections deeply moved. Cody’s Wish’s continued success has become a beacon of hope and joy for Cody and many others.

Cody’s father, Kelly Dorman, expressed how the journey with Cody’s Wish has brought unexpected happiness to their lives. He recounted how, during the Breeders’ Cup, the overwhelming support from people who knew their story made them feel part of a larger family.

At the Make-A-Wish Ohio, Kentucky & Indiana luncheon in 2023, Cody, through his adaptive communication device, shared his desire to help others and raised significant funds for the foundation. His story has reached millions, touching hearts worldwide.

Gone but not Forgotten

Tragically, Cody Dorman passed away on his way home from the Breeders’ Cup in November 2023. He had just watched Cody’s Wish win his final race. Cody’s parents expressed their heartbreak and immense pride in the impact their son had made on so many lives. They noted that Cody’s Wish embodied the same perseverance and courage that Cody displayed throughout his life.

Racing rocked by death of Cody Dorman. Source: America's Best Racing
Racing rocked by death of Cody Dorman. Source: America's Best Racing

Cody’s Wish’s legacy will continue to be cherished by the Dorman family and everyone who has been touched by their extraordinary bond. The horse’s future as a stud will keep him close to the Dormans, ensuring that this inspiring story of friendship and resilience will endure.

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