LOUISVILLE, KY (Saturday, May 6, 2023) – Godolphin’s homebred Cody’s Wish returned to the races in style as he cruised to a 4 ¾-length victory in the 88th running of the $750,000 Churchill Downs presented by Ford (GI) for 4-year-olds and up.
Trained by Bill Mott and ridden by Junior Alvarado, Cody’s Wish covered the seven furlongs on a fast main track in 1:21.17.
The victory is a record fourth in the race for Mott, who won previously with Rock and Roll in 1999, Rapid Gray in a division of the race in 1985 and Shot n’ Missed in 1983.
Here Mi Song and Hoist the Gold vied for the early lead through an opening quarter of :22.70 with Cody’s Wish at the rear of the nine-horse field.
By the time the field reached the far turn, Cody’s Wish began to pick off horses as the leaders passed the half-mile mark in :45.19.
At the head of the lane, Hoist the Gold had taken over but Cody’s Wish was in full stride and surged to the front approaching the eighth pole and drew off.
Making his first start since winning the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (GI) six months ago, Cody’s Wish remained perfect at Churchill Downs with his fifth victory from five starts. It is his third consecutive Grade I victory.
A 5-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Curlin out of the Tapit mare Dance Card, Cody’s Wish earned $446,400 for the victory that improved his earnings to $1,778,530 with a record of 12-8-1-3.
Cody’s Wish returned $3.44, $2.90 and $2.64. Hoist the Gold, ridden by Luis Saez, returned $6.34 and $4.48 and finished a half-length in front of Tejano Twist, who paid $5.04 to show under Chris Landeros.
It was another three-quarters of a length back to Here Mi Song, who was followed in order by Sir Alfred James, Get Her Number, Steal Sunshine, Endorsed and Fortin Hill.
CHURCHILL DOWNS QUOTES
Junior Alvarado (jockey, Cody’s Wish, winner) – “I don’t even know how to describe how much better he got today. What I felt today, is what you want to feel when you ride horses in big races, to feel the whole machine underneath you. Today, he was just a lovely animal to ride. He was there with me every step of the way. When I asked him, he didn’t hold anything back, he just went right by those horses. This is what I love to do with this horse. I just want to keep the story going.”
Bill Mott (trainer, Cody’s Wish, winner) – “With this horse winning, it’s really way more than a horse race. For us, I mean, Cody Dorman, and Cody’s Wish, make it something special. When this horse came back after the race, and hearing the crowd, they were going crazy up there, more than they normally cheer for any other race. And the horse is just so great. He’s been showing up every time. He’s been off since the Breeders’ Cup, but it sure looked like he was ready today.
“I get choked up easily, but when he was walking over, my assistant Kenny said he paused, and he looked, and said it was almost like there is a connection there. Usually we don’t see that in horses. For what reason, the horse knows something is special.”
Luis Saez (jockey, Hoist the Gold, second) – “He ran big. We broke sharp, sat in second and was travelling very comfortable. We came down the stretch and he never gave up. The winner was pretty good.”
Chris Landeros (jockey, Tejano Twist, third) – “He ran a great race. I have to be honest, I was caught off guard by Cody’s Wish. I was sitting where I wanted to be. I was comfortable, following Endorsed and I actually took a peak over and I didn’t quite see Junior (Alvarado). The minute I started riding forward, he was on me in two jumps.”