Cody’s Wish is a dream-come-true horse for everyone around him, particularly for 17-year-old Cody Dorman.
The teenager was born with the rare genetic disorder Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome and is unable to walk or speak. On a visit with his family to Gainsborough Farm in Versailles, Kentucky, about four years ago, the horse slowly approached and laid his head on the boy’s lap.
The strong bond formed between them has been magical ever since. Cody Dorman, through head movements and communicating through a tablet, credits Cody’s Wish for saving his life. The 5-year-old bay son of Curlin, in turn, has provided nothing but heart-warming victories for more than year – six wins in a row, four of them in Grade 1 stakes, the most recent coming in the Metroplitan Handicap (Met Mile) at Belmont on June 10.
Cody’s Wish looks to make it a lucky seven straight on Saturday, when he headlines a field of six in the $1 million Whitney Stakes (G1) at Saratoga. Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, Cody’s Wish is the 1-2 morning-line favorite leaving from post 6 under Junior Alvarado.
The field is a tough one, including Zandon, White Abarrio, and Charge It, the 2-3-4 finishers, respectively, in the Met Mile. Last Samurai and Giant Game are also entered.
“Every time you bring a horse over like this, you stand the risk of getting beat. There’s always somebody that’s an up-and-coming horse and we certainly respect all the competition. This is a very good horse and hopefully for our sake, he can go on,’’ Mott said. “There’s a great story that goes with him with Cody Dorman, so the whole scenario turns out to be very special.”
The Whitney is a “Win and You’re In’’ race in the Breeders’
Cup challenge series, with the winner earning an automatic berth with all fees paid to the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Santa Anita on Nov. 4.
Cody’s Wish, bred and owned by Godolphin, has finished in the top 3 in all 13 of his career starts with nine victories, a second, and three thirds for earnings of $2.3 million.
The Whitney is run at 1 1/8 miles around two turns, which could be an issue. Cody’s Wish has not yet won at the distance, finishing third in a maiden race in 2021 the last time he raced at 1 1/8 miles.
“We have reason to believe he could do it,” Mott said. “He’s come a long way. He was terribly green when we ran him at three in his first few races. He just didn’t know whether to go forward or that sort of thing.”
Charge It, trained by Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, bounced back from his fourth-place finish in the Met Mile by winning the 1 ¼-mile Suburban (G2) at Belmont on July 8.
“He’s a typical Tapit. He’s had a few issues. He’s had some things go on. Right now, he’s bounced out of the Suburban great,’’ Todd Quast, general manager for owner Whisper Hill Farm, said. “I think two turns and backing up a little bit will suit him perfect. Cody’s Wish is the best around, but we need to make him work for it.”
Charge It, the 5-1 third betting choice, leaves from post 2 under Hall of Famer John Velazquez.
Zandon may be 0-for-7 since winning the 2022 Blue Grass (G1), but the 4-year-old colt ran third in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and in four other races, including the Jim Dandy (G1) and Pennsylvania Derby (G1) in 2022 and the Westchester (G3) and Met Mile (G1) in 2023.
“He’s performed well at several tracks and luckily he’s handled this track well,’’ trainer Chad Brown said of Zandon. “He’s just an all-around quality horse. I hope he has his day to put his head in front.”
It’s tough to go against Cody’s Wish, but at 1-2, let’ take a chance for a slight surprise:
1 Zandon (Joel Rosario, Chad Brown), 9-2
2 Charge It (John Velazquez, Todd Pletcher), 5-1
3 Giant Game (Luis Sae, Dale Romans), 20-1
4 Last Samurai (Flavien Prat, D. Wayne Lukas), 15-1
5 White Abarrio (Irad Ortiz, Jr., Rick Dutrow, Jr.), 6-1
6 Cody’s Wish (Junior Alvarado, Bill Mott), 1-2
The writing team at US Racing is comprised of both full-time and part-time contributors with expertise in various aspects of the Sport of Kings.