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McAleney will enter Sunday’s race with his trusty steed River Rush, a bay colt that recently placed first in the Plate Trial earlier this month. Just as impressive as the win, was that the two entered the Plate Trial as a 21-1 longshot, with the horse earning her first victory in just three starts.

25 Plate Trial winners have gone on to win the Queen’s Plate, which includes three of the last four.

McAleney told CBC that as the Plate Trial concluded, he knew he was in good shape for this weekend at Woodbine.

“When we rounded the eighth-pole and we had only an 1/8 of a mile to the finish line, I knew we were going to win. It was really cool because it wasn’t a hope or a dream or a wish, it was just a given feeling, that I didn’t create, that I was going the Queen’s Plate this year.”

The upcoming race will be McAleney’s 18 attempt at securing a Queen’s Plate since arriving at Woodbine as a teenager back in the 1980’s. The jockey has had numerous close calls, even finishing as the runner up in both 2000 and 2002.

However, it was a third place finish in 2005 that hurt the most, as McAleney and his horse at the time Gold Strike led by three lengths at the mile-pole, only to eventually tire out and finish third.

McAleney says that finish was the most devastating of his career.

This year could be a first for River Rush’s trainer, Reade Baker, who is also looking for his first Queen’s Plate. However, Baker and McAleney are no strangers to victory, as the two have combined to win 33 stakes races.

Despite an extremely successful racing career, McAleney says he would be extremely disappointed if he retired without winning the Queen’s Plate.

“If I were to finish my career and not have this accomplishment I would feel it would be incomplete. A race like this really puts the icing on the cake to your career. It’s even more than that. It’s the thrill of winning it. This is the race in Canada. I’ve seen friends and others I know win it an enjoy it. I want that feeling of they joy they had in winning it.”

This weekend will also be an emotional event for McAleney, who suffered a setback in his racing career in March of 2007, when he required surgery to repair a broken femur suffered in a training accident two days before the opening day of races at Woodbine.

As if that wasn’t hard enough on the jockey, in 2010, his horse at the time clipped the back heels of another horse, resulting in McAleney suffering a collapsed lung, and a crushed collarbone along with breaking all eight ribs on his left side.

The severe injury forced the jockey into five months of recovery, rehab and workouts to get back into competitive shape.

With a weekend win at Woodbine, the Fort St. John jockey would be only two career wins away from 2,250, an impressive feat for a jockey, who at the age of 11, was inspired to begin competing in the sport, after watching the very same Queen’s Plate event on television, deciding then, that being a jockey was a career he wanted to pursue.

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