Fan Club

“Vox Populi” Award

“Horse racing already has established avenues to award outstanding accomplishments, and we certainly should honor superior performance. But achievement can be measured in many ways, and fans occasionally feel a disconnect when the horses who most impacted the public are not recognized through the traditional equine awards. The industry is long overdue in annually acknowledging the star horse who brings the most excitement and attention to the sport. It is my hope that the Secretariat “Vox Populi” Award will be an honor that reflects the heart and soul of racing and will help build upon the devotion the public has for a horse they love.”

~ Penny Chenery, 2010

Champion’s Bond with his Late Namesake, Cody Dorman, Transcended Horse Racing

Click here to purchase the official Cody’s Wish 2023 “Vox Populi” Winner’s Print by Jaime Corum

Cody’s Wish, the gutsy five-year-old winner of four of five stakes races this year and beloved equine pal to the late Cody Dorman, has been voted the first back-to-back winner of the Secretariat Vox Populi Award.

Secretariat’s owner Penny Chenery created the award in 2010 to annually recognize the racehorse whose popularity and racing excellence best resounded with the public and gained recognition for the sport.

Cody’s Wish’s story is inextricably linked with that of his namesake, Cody Dorman, who lived courageously with a rare genetic disorder and passed away on Nov. 5, just six weeks shy of his 18th birthday and only a day after witnessing Cody’s Wish battle to a nose victory in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California.

Representatives of the Cody’s Wish team will return to Santa Anita Park on Jan. 13 for the Vox Populi Award trophy presentation as part of the day’s activities.

Owned by Godolphin, trained by Bill Mott, and ridden by Junior Alvarado, Cody’s Wish won the 2023 Churchill Downs Stakes (G1), Hill ‘N’ Dale Metropolitan Handicap (G1), Vosburgh Stakes (G2), and, for the second straight year, the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1). He also placed third in the Whitney Stakes (G1).

Beyond his victories and grit on the track, it was the horse’s connection to Cody Dorman that elicited widespread admiration and affection from fans.

“Cody’s Wish embodies all that the Secretariat Vox Populi Award represents. He has wowed us with his performances on the racetrack and touched countless people’s hearts with his profound connection with Cody Dorman,” said Kate Chenery Tweedy, daughter of Secretariat’s late owner Penny Chenery. “In this 50th anniversary year of Secretariat’s Triple Crown, it is inspiring to see the twin legacies of Cody and Cody’s Wish honored through this Award.”

For five years, Cody’s Wish and Cody Dorman shared a unique connection, beginning with their first encounter in 2018 at Godolphin’s Gainsborough Farm, a visit made possible by Keeneland’s Make-A-Wish Day. Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome had relegated the then-12-year-old Cody to a wheelchair and rendered him unable to speak. An inquisitive 5-month-old foal—by leading sire Curlin out of the Tapit mare Dance Card—was introduced to Cody and put his head in the boy’s lap. With that, the bay colt earned his name: Cody’s Wish.

Over the next few years, a number of such sweet interactions occurred and the special rapport between the two continued to their earthly end—Cody’s Wish ran his final race on Nov. 4 and Cody Dorman passed the next day—but their bond endures for those who know their story, beginning with Cody’s family:

“We want to thank everyone who voted for Cody’s Wish to help him achieve his second consecutive Vox Populi Award,” wrote Cody Dorman’s father Kelly, mother Leslie and sister Kylie in a special message (below). “The feeling of amazement and happiness has never changed from the first moment we met Cody’s Wish to this day and beyond. Seeing his performances on the track and his enduring love for Cody in person will be branded into our hearts forever.”

Cody’s Wish Vox Populi Award Presentation with Danny Mulvihill of Godolphin and the Dorman Family

A fifth-generation great-grandson of Secretariat, Cody’s Wish twice has earned the award that bears his forefather’s name and represents the vox populi, Latin for “voice of the people.”

The owners of Cody’s Wish shared their appreciation as well. “Everyone at Team Godolphin is honored to see Cody’s Wish voted by the fans as the winner of the 2023 Vox Populi Award. Both Cody’s Wish’s achievements on the racetrack and his relationship with Cody Dorman have touched the lives of so many both inside and outside of the industry. It has been an incredible journey and one we were delighted to share with Cody and his family. We are looking forward to seeing what Cody’s Wish can do in his second career in the breeding shed. Thank you to the Secretariat team, the Chenery Family and to everyone that voted for Cody’s Wish.”

Retiring with 11 wins in 16 starts and career earnings of $3,106,030, Cody’s Wish will stand stud at Godolphin’s Jonabell Farm, home of Darley’s American stallions in Lexington, Kentucky.

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.

In winning the Vox Populi Award last year, Cody’s Wish joined the celebrated roster of racing stars who had received it previously: Hot Rod Charlie (2021), 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).


A Message from the Dorman Family:

“We want to thank everyone who voted for Cody’s Wish to help him achieve his second consecutive Secretariat Vox Populi Award, with a special thank you to the late Penny Chenery and all involved with continuing the legacy of Secretariat for creating such a meaningful award for the equine community.

The feeling of amazement and happiness has never changed from the first moment we met Cody’s Wish to this day and beyond. Seeing his performances on the track and his enduring love for Cody in person will be branded into our hearts forever.

Some of the biggest blessings from this story have come from meeting so many wonderful people from all walks of life, fans, and people we now call friends. We never tire of hearing from each of you about how much Cody’s Wish and his connection to Cody has meant to you. Each of you reminds us of that, warming our hearts and making us so proud of what an exceptional horse Cody’s Wish is, on and off the track.

From the moment Cody’s Wish laid his head in Cody’s lap, we knew that wherever he went from there, he would always be running for Cody. But as time passed, the story of these two grew bigger. It became evident that Cody’s Wish ran for more than just Cody. He ran for all of us. He ran for every child and adult who had unimaginable challenges in their lives. He ran for everyone who believed in him and others who doubted him. He put so much of the world on his back and helped us see that we can conquer obstacles, too, no matter how big. That perseverance was something to dwell on. He did all that with Cody, who already believed this by his every stride.

But the most important place Cody’s Wish ever ran was into our hearts. We don’t know about everyone else, but he ran to a place in our hearts, a new place in the very center of our hearts that will always remind us how powerful love and happiness are bigger than anything we’ll ever face. And he showed us all that, from his first stall to his last finish line.

God bless you, Cody’s Wish, and God bless you, friends. Thank you so much for supporting Cody’s Wish and enjoying the ride.

See you at the track!”

~ Kelly, Leslie, Kylie and always and forever Cody Dorman

Read Steve Haskin’s Posting “Cody’s Wish Wins Second Secretariat Vox Populi Award”



2010 Q & A with Penny Chenery about the Secretariat Vox Populi” Award

What is the Secretariat “Vox Populi” Award?
“Vox Populi” is an age-old Latin expression that literally means “voice of the people.” The award gives recognition to the horse that generated the most fan response during the year.

What motivated you to create the Award?
Racing has an established award system in place that is fundamentally based on past performance. But there is nothing that honors the horse that best captures the attention and affection of the public. The fans are the life-blood of our sport and their collective “voice” deserves to be heard and formally recognized. In the past decade alone, extremely popular horses like Funny Cide, Smarty Jones, and Barbaro all captivated the imagination of the public but were ultimately left unrecognized in terms of traditional divisional year-end honors. How can we, as an industry, expect the rest of the world to embrace our sport when we don’t annually honor our most beloved horses internally?

How will the winner of the Award be decided?
Each year the winner will be selected based upon the horse who most resonates with the public and gains recognition for the sport. I envision a democratic process involving a diverse panel of distinguished racing personalities and representatives, from within and outside the industry, working together in unison with the “voice” of the general public. The selection process will involve the utilization of an open on-line poll to help quantify public opinion.

What is the Secretariat “Vox Populi” Award’s relationship to the Eclipse Awards?
The Eclipse Awards recognizes the “professional’s” choice based upon the evaluation of statistical track performances. The Secretariat “Vox Populi” Award measures the “public’s” choice and their emotional sentiment. While the Secretariat “Vox Populi” Award may or may not be bestowed upon an Eclipse Award candidate, it is simply not concerned or constrained by who beat whom in which race. The Award reflects who the fans were pulling for. And it is not meant to conflict with the Eclipse Awards but to enhance how we honor our racing heroes.

How will the Secretariat “Vox Populi” Award be presented?
An award that speaks for the public should allow the public to participate in its ceremony. It is my hope the presentation to the winner can take place at a public racing venue where fans of any age are invited to come and celebrate the winner’s accomplishments and express their affection with the connections.

What is your future vision for the Secretariat “Vox Populi” Award?
I would like it to provide an ongoing platform for the voice of the fans to honor the horses they love, a touchstone for what they deem best and brightest
within our sport.


Secretariat “Vox Populi” Award committee members:

Charlsie Cantey – National television horse racing analyst and commentator
Steve Cauthen – Hall of Fame jockey and 1978 Triple Crown winner aboard Affirmed
Mark Ciardi – President of Select Films and producer of 2010 Disney Studio’s film “Secretariat”
Bob Curran – Former Vice President of Corporate Communications for The Jockey Club
Steve Haskin – Racing historian and former journalist for Blood-Horse Magazine
Jack Knowlton – Operating Manager of Sackatoga Stable
Laffit Pincay III – NBC and Fox Sports Horse Racing Analyst
Amy Zimmerman – Executive Producer, HRTV and Producer for NBC and ESPN racing telecasts
Brian Zipse – Senior writer for Horse Racing Nation and Host of HorseCenter


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