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Cody’s Wish shows heart of a champion to take G1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile

Racenews

Cody's Wishinfo-icon continued his sensational season with a determined victory in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile amid emotional scenes at Keeneland, USA, on Saturday, 5 November.

The Bill Mott-trained four-year-old headed into the championship contest on the back of three straight wins, including beating top sprinter Jackie’s Warrior in Saratoga’s G1 Forego Stakes in August.

Held up in second last of the nine runners by Junior Alvarado, Cody’s Wish started to take closer order at the halfway point and made a sweeping move around the field turning for home.

Cody’s Wish moved up to challenge for the lead at the top of the straight, with Cyberknife rallying gamely as the two pulled clear inside the final furlong. Cyberknife continued to battle in front but could not repel Cody’s Wish in the final strides, with the Godolphin homebred getting up near the line for a head verdict.

Bill Mott said: “We were a little bit concerned about the two-turn race, going into the first turn and whether Cody’s Wish would get shuffled back, maybe not have the same momentum the first quarter of a mile. But he settled into a beautiful stride when he headed down the backside. And Junior [Alvarado] looked like he tipped him to the outside to be sure he was going to be clear.

“This horse, he's got a massive stride. He's covering a lot more ground than you think he is. When he left the half-mile pole today, he was doing some running. He extended his stride and he looked great.

“I would love to keep him in training. His profile is starting to get pretty good right now and I'm sure he would be an attractive stallion for many people to breed to. Any horse that can win a Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile is going to be sought after.

“The thing about it is he did get a late start in life and has only had really one season of hard racing. He would be a horse that probably is just coming into his own these last two starts. He has risen into Stakes company and to G1 level. He would be a horse that, for me as a trainer, would be an interesting horse to take to a race like the Met Mile.

“I'm sure if he stays in training we will have the discussion about stretching him out to a longer distance, but I think right at the moment, I think we feel that he's probably best at seven furlongs and a mile.”

Junior Alvarado said: “I probably didn’t have the trip that I was planning. Cody’s Wish didn’t break great, so I just took my time with him. I didn’t want to rush him as he is a horse that can get a little rank. By the 3/8th pole, I was getting excited, but I knew there was a lot of race left to run. He finished up really well for me. When we turned for home, I knew I had the horse.”

Victory at Keeneland proved a fitting addition to the remarkable tale of Cody’s Wish, who met his namesake Cody Dorman as a foal a few miles from the racetrack at Godolphin’s Gainsborough Farm.

Dorman, who suffers from the rare genetic disorder Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome, immediately formed a special bond with the then unnamed Curlin colt. He and his family had been present as Cody’s Wish won four times at Churchill Downs and they were once again on hand to welcome the horse into the winner’s enclosure.

Michael Banahan, Director of Bloodstock, Godolphin USA, said: “It has been this unbelievable story from the get-go when Cody Dorman first met Cody's Wish as just a foal in the barn and they developed this bond seemingly. He then saw him as a two-year-old and we were worried about being a rambunctious, strong two-year-old dealing with him at that stage. And the horse put his head down in his lap. We were all surprised about that.

“It just seemed like they had this connection. The Dormans came out last Wednesday and Bill had the horse out with Cody Dorman as well. He got down, nosed at him as well. It seems like he knows who Cody Dorman is and to have this little relationship with each other -- and he's just been a special horse for the family, for us, and it's just like a Hollywood story. It's hard to script.

“We thought the Forego was going to be our highlight for the year, but to come back to the Breeders' Cup and win that again – and the horse trained to perfection by Bill and got another fantastic ride from Junior today as well. It all came together. To win that photo finish, I think Cody Dorman must have been pushing him down there to make sure that that happened. It was unbelievable.”