Cody’s Wish Wins 2022 Secretariat Vox Populi Award

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The winner’s circle celebration with the blanket of flowers draped over 16-year-old Cody Dorman after Cody’s Wish won the 2022 Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. (Eclipse Sportswire)

Cody’s Wish, the talented 4-year-old colt who shares an endearing bond with teenager Cody Dorman, has been voted the winner of the 2022 Secretariat Vox Populi Award. Created by Secretariat’s owner Penny Chenery, the annual award recognizes the horse whose popularity and racing excellence best resounded with the public and gained recognition for Thoroughbred racing.

Cody checks in on ‘Cody’ at the farm. (Courtesy of Kelly Dorman)

Owned by Godolphin, trained by Bill Mott, and ridden throughout the year by Junior Alvarado, Cody’s Wish and his special story have gained affection and admiration that transcend the sport of racing. On the track, Cody’s Wish’s 2022 accomplishments featured four victories in five starts, including impressive performances in the Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and Forego Stakes. In addition to his racing success, it was his continuing connection with his now 16-year-old namesake Cody Dorman, who lives with a rare genetic disorder, that captured fans’ hearts and an abundance of Vox Populi votes.

In 2018, Richmond, Ky. native Dorman was offered a tour of Godolphin’s Gainsborough Farm as part of Keeneland’s Make-A-Wish Day. Dorman’s condition, Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome, renders him unable to speak and relegates him to a wheelchair. During Dorman’s visit to the farm, an inquisitive 6-month-old foal walked over to young Cody and put his head in the boy’s lap. And with that, the bay colt earned his name: Cody’s Wish.

Nearly four years later, the special bond and sweet interactions between the two continue, including just days before this year’s Breeders’ Cup when the now grown-up and strapping racehorse reconnected with his longtime pal.

“Cody’s Wish and his namesake Cody Dorman forged an instant bond that would grow to connect millions of fans to their inspiring story of hope and determination,” said Kate Chenery Tweedy, daughter of Penny Chenery. “Not only did Cody’s Wish win the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, as Cody predicted, but both Cody’s won the hearts of people everywhere. Their uplifting story exemplifies the best ideals of the Vox Populi Award, just as Mom wished.”

Godolphin Farm added, “We at team Godolphin are delighted that Cody’s Wish was voted by the fans to be the recipient of the 2022 Vox Populi Award. The story of the two Cody’s bond for each other since the foal, Cody’s Wish and the boy, Cody Dorman first met in 2018 is a magical one, culminating with the star athlete and the young man sharing the winners circle at the Breeders’ Cup.”\

Cody’s Wish, by leading sire Curlin and out of the Tapit mare Dance Card, clearly embodies the meaning of vox populi, Latin for “voice of the people.” The fifth-generation great-grandson of Secretariat garnered thousands of votes in the online public poll while besting the other 2022 nominees, the undefeated Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Flightline and Rich Strike, the 80-1 longshot winner of the 2022 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve.

Nominees for the award were submitted by the Vox Populi Committee, comprised of distinguished personalities from within and outside the racing industry. Voters also had the option to write in their own favorite candidate to recognize other exceptional horses.

The Vox Populi trophy presentation is scheduled to take place at Santa Anita Park Jan. 14.

As the 2022 winner, Cody’s Wish joins the celebrated roster of racing stars who previously received the Vox Populi Award: Hot Rod Charlie (2022), Authentic (2020), Bricks and Mortar  (2019), Winx  (2018), Ben’s Cat  (2017), California Chrome  (2016 and 2014), American Pharoah   (2015), Mucho Macho Man (2013), Paynter (2012), Rapid Redux (2011), and inaugural winner Zenyatta  (2010). 

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