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Cody’s Wish won the 2023 Vosburgh Stakes (G2) at Belmont at the Big A, a “Win & You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.
Is the Bill Mott trainee your pick to defend his Dirt Mile title at the World Championships? Watch the replay & get the Racing Dudes’ expert analysis, then tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!
Godolphin’s Kentucky homebred Cody’s Wish overcame a hesitant beginning and the stubborn pacesetter Accretive to capture Sunday’s Grade 2, $250,000 Vosburgh, a seven-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up, at Belmont at the Big A.
Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott and piloted by Junior Alvarado, the victory provided the 5-year-old Curlin bay a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint on November 4 at Santa Anita Park. However, Cody’s Wish will instead target a title defense in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile on the same card, having already secured a “Win and You’re In” ticket for his impressive score in the Grade 1 Hill ‘n’ Dale Metropolitan Handicap in June at Belmont Park.
“He was off slow, but he was able to make it up. Ideally, there’s more pace and they kind of come back to him, but everybody kept running today,” Mott said. “I think obviously a horse like him when they go 44 [seconds] and change, he’s going to close better and finish better if the others are coming back to him, but they kept running.”
Cody’s Wish broke last of all from the outermost post 6 as Irad Ortiz, Jr. sent Accretive to the lead to mark the opening quarter-mile in 23.33 seconds over the fast main track with Sheriff Bianco in second and Great Navigator saving ground in third. Alvarado urged Cody’s Wish into contention with an outside rush down the backstretch to land in second position as Accretive reached the half-mile in 46.12.
Cody’s Wish loomed large to the outside of Accretive to put a head in front as the field hit the top of the lane, but the pacesetter dug in gamely and refused to give way. The two foes threw it down but Cody’s Wish would not be denied, pulling away from his rival inside the final sixteenth under right-handed encouragement and crossing the wire a 1 1/2-length winner in a final time of 1:21.83. Accretive completed the exacta by 3 1/4-lengths over Great Navigator with Sheriff Bianco, High Oak and Cowan rounding out the order of finish.
The victory marked the sixth career graded score for the multiple Grade 1-winner, making amends for a distant third-place finish when attempting to stretch out to nine furlongs in the Grade 1 Whitney on August 5 at Saratoga Race Course.
“It’s great just having him back [in the winner’s circle],” Mott said. “We would have been really disappointed had he not been able to handle this group. He was supposed to win. I thought he did it well enough and at the wire, he was getting away from them. Turning for home, that other horse [Accretive] gave him a little bit of a tussle, but past the eighth pole, it looked like he showed up.”
Alvarado said Cody’s Wish had the class to overcome a slow start.
“Right when he loads, he started acting up,” Alvarado said. “He fixed himself up a little bit there, but not 100 percent, and then they broke so I don’t think he got a chance to get his feet from underneath him. He broke flatfooted out of there. The pace wasn’t too fast, so he had a chance to quicken himself and get in contention.
“We had to put up with a little fight there, but I knew I had the horse to fight him [Accretive],” Alvarado added. “I didn’t care how much we won by, just as long as he gave me that punch he always does turning for home. That’s all I was expecting and he did it well.”
Mott said the effort should set Cody’s Wish up well for the Dirt Mile.
“I would think so. It wasn’t so brilliant you worry about taking everything out of him, but it was enough to see that he still wants to do it and can do it,” Mott said. “I think both distances [seven furlongs and one mile] are good. I guess seven is good for him if there’s more pace. There wasn’t a lot of pace today, but [it was] a good effort.”
Mott will send out Juddmonte’s Elite Power – last year’s Vosburgh winner – for a title defense in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint. The 5-year-old Curlin chestnut breezed a half-mile in 51 flat Friday over the Oklahoma dirt training track in his first breeze back since a runner-up effort in the Grade 1 Forego on August 26 at Saratoga.
“He’s back on a work schedule and we’ve got more work to do before the Breeders’ Cup, but he’s doing fine,” Mott said. “He runs pretty well fresh. He’s run good with a couple months off.”
In addition to his Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and Met Mile scores, Cody’s Wish also enjoyed top-flight success in last year’s Grade 1 Forego at the Spa. The fan favorite is named after teenager Cody Dorman, who was born with the rare genetic disorder Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome and is unable to walk or communicate without utilizing a tablet.
The story of the two Codys has captured the hearts of many as Cody’s Wish has traveled across the nation since last March, drawing fans at six different racetracks and winning now at five of them.
Michael Banahan, director of bloodstock for Godolphin, said Cody’s Wish is likely to retire at the end of this campaign.
“We got another year out of him which is great. The major goal was trying to win the Met Mile, which we achieved,” Banahan said. “Everything else was just bonus to top it off. In this situation, we’ll try to be a repeat winner of the Breeders’ Cup [Dirt] Mile. We’re hoping he can do that again, he’s obviously one of the best horses in the country and we’d like to maintain that position if we can.”
Out of the Grade 1-winning Tapit mare Dance Card, Cody’s Wish is a half-brother to dual graded stakes-winner Endorsed. He banked $137,500 in victory while improving his record to 15-10-1-4. He returned $2.30 for a $2 win bet.
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