Cody Dorman, a special young man with a passion for horses and horseracing, has passed away at the age of 17.

You don’t have to be a horseracing fan to be touched by the story of Cody Dorman and the Thoroughbred Cody’s Wish. The young man who was born with Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome, a rare genetic disorder which confined him to a wheelchair, met the horse when it was a five-month-old weanling at Godolphin’s Gainsborough Farm in Lexington, Kentucky. According to Dorman’s family, the foal walked over to Cody’s wheelchair and placed his head in the boy’s lap. A bond was formed, so much so that the weanling’s owners chose to name the racehorse Cody’s Wish.

Cody’s Wish went on to a stellar racing career, winning 11 of 16 career starts. His most recent win was also his last before retiring to stud, the $1 million Dirt Mile at the Breeder’s Cup in Santa Anita, California on November 4th. It was the second time the horse had won this rich race, and it was an emotional victory, with young Dorman in the winner’s circle waiting to greet the his namesake.

Sadly, it was during his trip home to Kentucky with his family that Dorman passed away, suffering an unspecified medical event.

“This heartfelt story has touched the hearts of many in and outside of the Thoroughbred industry,” Dan Pride, chief operating officer of Godolphin, said in a statement, reported in the Associated Press.  “And while Cody’s passing has saddened us, we find comfort in knowing that Cody found many joyous moments during this journey with his best friend, Cody’s Wish. Our hearts are with the Dorman family.”

You can watch the Breeders Cup Dirt Mile here: