Jason Beem's Thursday Column for Nov. 9, 2023

November 9th, 2023

Jason discusses the passing of Cody Dorman and the importance of the emotional connections that come into our lives because of racing.

A good Thursday morning to you all! Hope your Breeders’ Cup hangover has passed as we settle in for another weekend of racing. The racing world collectively grieved this past Monday when we heard of the passing of Cody Dorman shortly after the Breeders’ Cup win. The story quickly resounded with people in and out of racing when the horse Cody’s Wish started to show signs of being a star, and there were several times as a fan I watched and thought, “There’s no way this horse can do it again, can he?” And yet he continued to win.

Watching the Breeders’ Cup on Saturday I was sitting with some buddies at Tampa Bay Downs and basically everyone at our table was on National Treasure in the Dirt Mile. So when Cody’s Wish won by a scant nose, we all let out a collective sigh. A woman at the table next to us cheered and said, “We needed this win, we need more happiness.” To which we replied, “9-2 on National Treasure would have made us happy.” We were obviously saying that in fun and jest (don’t get me wrong we wanted the 9-2) but it was actually a nice moment we shared with the woman. She was thrilled to see Cody’s Wish go out a winner, as was everyone.

I’ve come to realize more and more that for myself, connections are a big part of why I work in horse racing and love it. It’s where I’ve made friends. My living. Most of my travel and so many of my memories have come from making connections in horse racing. Those of us who are so entrenched in racing spend so much of our time being divided with one another over our opinions, our bets, our thoughts on the industry, I think that we don’t appreciate all the connections in our lives the game has given us.

Most of the reaction to Cody’s passing was obviously heartbreak, as well as gratitude for his story and how it brought people together. I saw people in my timeline who questioned certain things about the story or things the industry could have done better for Cody, and those are discussions people can have, and are entitled to have, but they can do it without me. I choose to focus more on all the connections that Cody and Cody’s Wish made with thousands of people.

If you’re lucky enough to be someone who achieves wide-ranging success in the arts or music or sports, your legacy can live on for several generations. If you’re just a regular person like most of us, beyond our families and friends, our memory doesn’t live on much beyond those loved ones we left behind. Cody Dorman and Cody’s Wish both created a ton of memories and connection for so many people. Both will be remembered for years to come, and there’s a beauty in that, even though right now it feels like sadness.

I heard a quote just this week, “What’s remembered, lives.” It really resonated with me and kind of affirmed what I believe about how people stick with us even after they're gone. Through our memories and stories about people who have left us, we’re able to keep some part of their story alive. Cody’s story will live on with racing fans for many years to come. I hope his family and loved ones are filled with good memories of their son and are comforted in some way by the outpouring of love sent their way, even as they deal with an unimaginable loss.

“What’s remembered, lives.”