Breeders’ Cup horse Cody’s Wish has special bond with Kentucky teenager

One of the most inspiring stories of the weekend involves a horse running Saturday in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.

Cody’s Wish is a 4-year-old with the pedigree to say he is worthy of the race, but it is the special bond he has formed off the track that just may be a bigger part of his success.

Cody’s Wish’s story includes how he has changed the life of a young Richmond teen who just happens to be his namesake.

The countdown to the Breeders’ Cup is on at the Dorman house in Richmond. You could say one member is a bit more of a horse enthusiast than the others, always ready with a good horse joke.

“How does a horse from Kentucky greet another horse? With southern horse-pitality,” said Cody Dorman.

Spend just a little bit of time with Cody and if you are not laughing, you soon will be.

Cody does not communicate like most teenagers. Born with Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome, a rare genetic disorder Cody is left to communicate using a tablet.

“We pretty much treat him as a typical 16-year-old and he doesn’t want to be treated any different,” said Leslie Dorman, Cody’s mother.

Life has not been easy for Cody. He has had between 40 and 50 operations and endured thousands of seizures, but his parents say he was born with a strong will.

“You cannot talk about him without talking about his heart. It’s not in him to quit on anything,” said Kelly Dorman, Cody’s father.

And that will to never quit is something Cody has passed on to perhaps the most unlikely of friends. In 2018 as part of a Make-A-Wish trip, Cody was invited to Godolphin’s Gainsborough Farm in Versailles where he met a foal. No one knew how the foal would react to Cody and his wheelchair.

“He kept creeping up to him, never acted agitated or aggressive or anything, basically put his head on his lap, and they kind of just bonded,” said Kelly Dorman.

It was a magical moment that set forth a story no one saw coming, especially a year or so later when the farm called to tell the Dormans that the horse had a new name.

“It feels like a dream, I feel so honored for him to be named after me,” said Cody Dorman.

The newly named racehorse hit the track and never looked back.

“You know if he has half the heart Cody does he’s going to do a lot of great stuff,” said Dorman.

Cody and his family have been cheering the beloved horse on ever since, his room a shrine to the bond he’s built with him.

And it seems Cody’s Wish, out of Dance Card never forgets his human friend.

“When he came out of the barn he locked on Cody, there was nothing but those two,” said Kelly Dorman.

In August, Cody’s Wish won the Grade 1 Forego Stakes at Saratoga with his eyes set on the Breeders’ Cup. The Dormans say Cody’s Wish has been better than any medicine for their son.

“We can see such a difference in him. Cody was in a very dark place and this horse has changed his life,” said Leslie Dorman.

Really, he has changed this family’s life. They will all be at Keeneland for the Breeders’ Cup, Cody as confident as ever in his horse.

“He will win,” said Cody Dorman.

No matter the success, what Cody’s Wish has provided off the track for this family has really been the biggest win of all.

“We’ve got a front-row seat to the best story in the world right now,” said Kelly Dorman.

Cody feels very strong in his prediction that Cody’s Wish will win this weekend. It is something Cody has become good at it; he predicted the horse’s win back in August as well.

Win or lose Saturday, this horse is already a winner in the hearts of so many here in central Kentucky.