Happily Ever After for Cody's Wish Fairy Tale in Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile

Cody's Wish defeats National Treasure | Horsephotos

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What a way to kick off Saturday's Breeders' Cup action as the sport's favorite fairy tale got its happily-ever-after ending. Cody's Wish (Curlin–Dance Card, by Tapit) made it back-to-back GI Big Ass Fans Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile wins in a dramatic running of the first World Championships race on the card Saturday. Cody's Wish had captured the heart of the racing world last year as the story of his incredibly special connection with Cody Dorman, a boy suffering from Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome, emerged and grew. There were few dry eyes among those who witnessed the bay's win in the 2022 Dirt Mile, but in 2023, the sport instead held its collective breath as the fan favorite got mugged at the start and had to survive both a photo finish and an inquiry for the stretch run.

“Sometimes wishes do come true,” said Hall of Famer Bill Mott.

After training exceptionally all week, Cody's Wish got squeezed at the break from both sides in the Dirt Mile and was quickly relegated to the rear of the field. Meanwhile, GI Preakness S. winner National Treasure (Quality Road) went straight to the lead through early fractions of :22.51 and :46.02, as last-out GII Charles Town Classic winner Skippylongstocking (Exaggerator) stalked from second. Still sixth and far back but in the clear with just a half to go, Cody's Wish unleashed a monster move. He split horses, weaving in and out, and finally dipped inside Skippylongstocking as he set his sights on National Treasure, who was still strong and comfortable in front.

“I didn't feel I had the luxury to go around the horses since these are Grade I horses,” said jockey Junior Alvarado. “He was helping me. I was like, 'Let me try to cut the corner a little bit, save some ground since it's moving forward.' I did all that, and right when I tip him out, he was there for me.

“When I got to the other horse, at that point, I just kind of let him know, 'Listen, my job is done right here. Just take me to the last part.' Since I know him, I knew he wasn't going to let that other horse go by once he got in front.”

Cody's Wish (outside) and National Treasure | Horsephotos

Cody's Wish angled outside to collar National Treasure, but the sophomore didn't relent. The two battled down the length of the stretch, bumping repeatedly. The Godolphin homebred got there by a nose, but had to endure a long inquiry as stewards reviewed the contact and finally upheld Cody's Wish as the winner, much to the relief of the crowd. Final time for the race was 1:35.97 as Skippylongstocking held third.

“The fact that he split horses in the turn could have made the difference,” said Mott. “I think, if he goes around, he loses another half-length or so.

“It was a great ride and a great run by the horse. It was a good effort.”

The Dirt Mile marked the eighth win in the last nine starts for Cody's Wish, who was coming off a GII Vosburgh S. victory Oct. 1 after his first loss–a third when stretching out to nine furlongs in the GI Whitney S. Aug. 5 in a less-than-ideal trip–since March, 2022. 'Cody' has captured seven graded stakes, including five Grade Is, and is undefeated in eight starts at a mile. In addition to his 11 visits to the winner's circle, he has never finished worse than third.

The race was Cody's Wish's swan song, as he will be retired to Godolphin's Jonabell Farm near Lexington. Mott and Alvarado also teamed up Friday with Just FYI (Justify) to win the GI NetJets Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, while Mott later got an additional Breeders' Cup win Saturday with Elite Power (Curlin) in the GI Sprint. Godolphin got a second homebred 2023 Breeders' Cup winner shortly after the Dirt Mile with Charles Appleby trainee Master of The Seas (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}) in the $2-million Mile.

Bill Mott and Cody Dorman in the winner's circle | Benoit

Mott, who was winning his 14th Breeders' Cup with the 2023 Dirt Mile (and later his 15th with the Sprint), reflected on where his other wins, including the 1995 Classic with Horse of the Year Cigar's unbeaten 10-for-10 season, ranked in comparison.

“I think, if it's not the best, it's certainly a dead heat,” said Mott. “It's probably one of the most memorable rides that we've all been on, and I think it's meant so much to so many different people.

“Sometimes it's a small group that gets to enjoy the win, but I think this one's been for a lot of people. We're very thankful for the Make-a-Wish Foundation that brought everything together. Godolphin has been terrific. I mean, the team at Godolphin has been so giving and open, and they were all about it, about this whole story, and they made the story.”

Kelly Dorman, whose son, Cody, is behind the dual Dirt Mile winner's name, added: “It's a blessing I can't–I don't even know if I could– even start to describe. In a lot of ways, I think that horse probably saved Cody's life. I know him and the horse has made a lot of lives better.

“First and foremost, the blessing is today Cody's Wish put his head in Cody's lap. The next blessing is all the people we got to meet, like these guys sitting right here, the fans, the entire horse racing nation has been incredible to us. We're so thankful and grateful for that.”

 

Pedigree Notes:

Two-time Horse of the Year, 2007 Breeders' Cup Classic winner, and extraordinary sire Curlin added to his laurels in a big way Saturday. The Dirt Mile started the day for him with a sixth individual Breeders' Cup win and he later added two more with Idiomatic in the GI Distaff and Elite Power in the aforementioned Sprint. It was the second consecutive year Curlin had three Breeders' Cup winners, a record he set in 2022 and matched this year. That gives Curlin eight individual Breeders' Cup wins, making him the all-time and undisputed leader among Breeders' Cup sires. To add to the embarrassment of riches, none of the three sires who trail him in second were themselves Breeders' Cup winners, unlike Curlin. The remarkable son of Smart Strike will stand for $250,000 in 2024 at Hill 'n' Dale at Xalapa. With seven U.S. champions, Curlin has 98 black-type winners worldwide and 55 graded winners, 21 at the highest level.

Dance Card, winner of the 2012 GI Gazelle S. and third in the 2013 GI Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint in the Godolphin colors, produced Cody's Wish and MGSW Endorsed (Medaglia d'Oro). Her 2-year-colt Hunt Ball (Into Mischief) is also in the Mott barn and has twice placed in two starts. She has a yearling filly by Street Sense and a weanling filly by Gun Runner. Dance Card, who was picked up for $750,000 by John Ferguson on behalf of Godolphin out of the Fasig-Tipton February 2-year-old sale in 2011, has been bred back to Curlin for a full-sibling to Cody's Wish in 2024.

Broodmare sire Tapit, who will stand for $185,000 next season at Gainesway, is one of only three sires in Breeders' Cup history to have seven Breeders' Cup wins as a sire. He's done mighty nicely as a damsire as well with 93 stakes winners out of his daughters. Two of the best this year out of his daughters–GI Belmont/GI Travers winner Arcangelo (Arrogate) and GI Kentucky Oaks winner Pretty Mischievous (Into Mischief)–both scratched earlier this week from the Classic and the Distaff, respectively.

Saturday, Santa Anita Park
BIG ASS FANS BREEDERS' CUP DIRT MILE-GI, $890,000, Santa Anita, 11-4, 3yo/up, 1m, 1:35.97, ft.
1–CODY'S WISH, 126, h, 5, by Curlin
                1st Dam: Dance Card (GISW, $502,200), by Tapit
                2nd Dam: Tempting Note, by Editor's Note
                3rd Dam: Tempt, by Devil's Bag
O/B-Godolphin (KY); T-William I. Mott; J-Junior Alvarado. $520,000. Lifetime Record: 16-11-1-4, $3,106,030. *1/2 to Endorsed (Medaglia d'Oro), MGSW, $970,133. Werk Nick Rating: A+++. *Triple Plus*. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree or free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree.
2–National Treasure, 123, c, 3, Quality Road–Treasure, by Medaglia d'Oro. ($500,000 Ylg '21 FTSAUG). O-SF Racing LLC, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables LLC, Robert E. Masterson, Stonestreet Stables LLC, Jay A. Schoenfarber, Waves Edge Capital LLC and Catherine Donovan; B-Peter E. Blum Thoroughbreds, LLC (KY); T-Bob Baffert. $170,000.
3–Skippylongstocking, 126, c, 4, Exaggerator–Twinkling, by War Chant. ($15,000 Ylg '20 KEESEP; $37,000 2yo '21 OBSAPR). O-Daniel Alonso; B-Brushy Hill, LLC (KY); T-Saffie A. Joseph, Jr.. $90,000.
Margins: NO, 3 3/4, 6HF. Odds: 0.80, 4.80, 11.60.
Also Ran: Charge It, Zozos, Stage Raider, Shirl's Bee. Scratched: Algiers (Ire), Practical Move.
Click for the Equibase.com chart or the TJCIS.com PPs. VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.

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