ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) — Cody’s Wish rallied from last and survived a stewards’ inquiry to defend his title in the $1 million Dirt Mile at the Breeders’ Cup on Saturday at Santa Anita.
Ridden by Junior Alvarado, Cody's Wish ran the distance in 1:35.97. Sent off as the 4-5 favorite, the 5-year-old horse paid $3.60 to win.
Cody's Wish dueled leader National Treasure down the stretch. Cody's Wish twice bumped National Treasure and jockey Flavien Prat before the Preakness winner made contact with Cody's Wish, triggering the inquiry.
“Right when I got next to National Treasure, I know he kind of came out and tried to meet with my horse,” Alvarado said. “I just think at that point where he's brushing my horse, I had the bigger horse and the mean horse, probably. I think my horse was feeling a little bit of a fight, and he tried to go right after the other horse.”
While fans chanted “Cody! Cody!,” the stewards studied video replays for seven minutes while the two horses were walked in circles on the track, waiting to see which one would get his picture taken in the winner's circle.
It was Cody's Wish by a nose.
“I knew it was nothing really to change the outcome,” Alvarado said. “My horse was already in front; he was never going to let that other horse go by again.”
Bob Baffert, who trains National Treasure, nodded his head at the finish, seemingly knowing that he had lost by the smallest margin in horse racing. Shirl's Bee, owned and bred by Canadian Charles Fipke, finished seventh.
The victory ensured a storybook ending for Cody's Wish in his final race before retirement. He won 11 of 16 career starts, including eight in stakes races, and over $3.1 million in earnings.
Waiting in the winner's circle during the inquiry was Cody Dorman, a teenager who has a rare genetic disorder and uses a wheelchair. He and the horse first met during a Make-A-Wish visit to a Kentucky farm when Cody's Wish was a foal in 2018. Cody's Wish walked over to Dorman's wheelchair and put his head in the boy's lap, creating a touching bond.
“I think that horse probably saved Cody’s life in a lot of ways,” said Kelly Dorman, the boy’s father. “I know him and the horse have made a lot of lives better.”
The Dorman family was on hand last year when Cody's Wish won the Dirt Mile by a head at Keeneland, and they joined Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott in celebrating again.
“It's probably one of the most memorable rides that we've all been on,” Mott said. “Sometimes it's a small group that gets to enjoy the win, but I think this one's been for a lot of people.”
Skippylongstocking was third in the seven-horse field. The race lost Practical Move after the colt collapsed earlier in the week and died of a suspected cardiac event. Algiers dropped out because of an issue with his right front foot.
The Dirt Mile kicked off nine Breeders' Cup races on the second day of the 40th world championships.
Inspiral beat Warm Heart by a neck in the $2 million Filly & Mare Turf. She made a late rush to the finish line under 52-year-old Frankie Dettori, who scrapped his retirement plans in favor of riding for another year in the U.S.
Trained by John Gosden, Inspiral ran 1 1/4 miles in 1:59.06 and paid $7 to win as the 5-2 favorite.
Canadian horse Moira placed third. Fev Rover, trained by Woodbine's Mark Casse, finished 11th.
Moira is the 2022 King's Plate champion and Canada's reigning horse of the year. Woodbine's Kevin Attard is the trainer.
AP freelance writer Mike Farrell contributed to this report.
AP sports: https://apnews.com/sports
Beth Harris, The Associated Press