(Cody Dorman, draped in a saddle cloth worn by his favorite friend — Cody’s Wish / Photos by Holly M. Smith)

Editor’s Note:

If there ever was a writer, editor, “friend of the horse industry,” that deserved to be in the Journalism “Hall of Fame,” either in Kentucky or Saratoga, it is my friend and long-time colleague Dan Liebman. I knew him when he got a job working with Logan Bailey in the underbelly of “old” Keeneland for “The Daily Racing Form.” And, I knew him when he went to “The Blood-Horse” and, naturally, ascended to the top of that publication’s ranks as Editor-in-Chief. He has always been one of the most fair, accurate, and passionate writers and people I have ever had to pleasure to work with, either in a press box or along the rail.

In fact, the first horse who I ever owned a part of was with Dan and our mutual friend, Mike Wolken. In other ways, we go a long way back. And, I would go a long way forward with him, too.

Here are some of his thoughts about Cody Dorman, and the great horse that bore his name and his mission:

By Dan Liebman:

In journalism school, at least during the era in which I was learning how to become a reporter, you are taught that among the basic and fundamental tenets of the profession is that of impartiality.

This, of course, pertains to news stories, obviously not columns or editorials, where the writer not only expresses opinions but seeks to generate a reaction from the reader.

It was a hard thing for me to learn … for two reasons

For one, it is difficult when you are covering an event, and the outcome is not to your personal liking, to put that aside and stick to the facts.

For another, I am an emotional person. I was taught, not by a professor but by my late father, that expressing emotion is a good thing.

“Why hold it in?” he would ask me.

So, as my children can attest, I am the first one to tear up at weddings, funerals, even simple, everyday family gatherings.

But not as a reporter.

In nearly 40 years of covering Thoroughbreds, I have shed a tear exactly three times. The third was today (Monday, Nov. 6), when I learned 18-year-old Cody Dorman had passed away Nov. 5, one day after Cody’s Wish had won his second straight G1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.

As those who follow racing know, Cody met the colt, who would become Cody’s Wish, during a visit to Gainsborough arranged by the Make-a-Wish Foundation. Cody suffered from the genetic disorder Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome, which I admit I had never heard of before reading about the great love affair between a young man and young horse.

A love affair that extended to the connections of the colt’s breeder and owner, Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley, and his Hall of Fame trainer, Bill Mott.

After Cody’s Wish gutted out a narrow decision Saturday at Santa Anita, Mott hugged Dorman as he sat trackside in his wheelchair.

I can only wonder if Cody Dorman’s body was set to relinquish him from the disorder he harbored, but waited until after he witnessed the colt he loved win his second consecutive Breeders’ Cup race.

And, I can’t help but wonder if Cody’s Wish showed just enough heart to get up in the final strides because he could feel the presence of his biggest fan.

In 1990, I was working for The Daily Racing Form, but was not a part of the coverage team at the Breeders’ Cup. So, my brother and I traveled on our dimes to New York’s Belmont Park, because we wanted to see two horses we had fallen in love with – Go for Wand and Unbridled.

Joined by our younger brother, we were in the grandstand screaming when Go For Wand came by us at the sixteenth pole with a narrow lead in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Distaff. She then suffered a fracture to her cannon bone and fell, throwing jockey Randy Romero.

When the curtain went up to shield those in attendance from seeing the filly be euthanized, tears dripped down my face.

(Unbrided did win the G1 Breeders’ Cup Classic.)

A year later, I was sent to the Keeneland November sale to track down Bob Courtney, the owner of Crestfield Farm.

Courtney, now deceased, was one of my best friends in the industry, and that morning he had suffered an unthinkable tragedy.

Something had spooked a group of weanlings, causing them to crash through a fence and onto a nearby interstate. Nine were killed when a tractor-trailer hit them.

As I approached his barn, his son, Robert, grabbed my arm. “He’s in the tack room,” he said. “Won’t come out.”

I walked in, sat down on a tack box, and Courtney lifted his head and looked at me. Tears were streaming down his face.

A minute later, they were streaming down mine as well.

“Maybe some dogs chased them. We don’t know,” Courtney said. “But it is the worst thing I have ever seen.”

Though some may find this hard to believe, journalists are people too. We have a heart. We aren’t unfeeling or uncaring, but simply appear that way because of our profession.

So, from the heart, this journalist thinks maybe a race could be named for Cody Dorman. Or maybe a season could be sold to Cody’s Wish to benefit research of Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome. Perhaps Cody Dorman’s parents could present the connections of Cody’s Wish his Eclipse Award.

Should one of those things occur, I may shed another tear.