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Cullen Seeks Klein Glory

Published: July 18, 2014 11:09 am ET

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“I’ve been raised doing this my whole life, so it’s been my dream to have some nice horses. For a young guy, it’s hard to say what to do or where to go right now, but for now, I’m looking forward.”

Just over a month ago, Travis Cullen’s phone rang with Lucy Raymond on the line. The Edmonton-based owner was inquiring if Cullen had room in his stable to take on two new horses. A few days later, the new additions arrived, bringing Cullen’s stable at Alberta Downs to a population of twenty.

Both three-year-olds, each have seen several barns in their short time at the races. Now in Cullen’s care, Great Quote and Rollin Deep are headed to stakes finals at Alberta Downs this weekend after impressive elimination performances.

Dropping over two seconds from her previous start, Rollin Deep wired the field with Cullen at the lines to claim victory in 1:53.1 in the Ralph Klein Breeders eliminations. Making good on 1-5 odds, she hit the wire with eight and three-quarter lengths over her nearest competitor. With five wins in fifteen stars, she has bankrolled in excess of $24,000 with many more opportunities to increase it still left in the season.

“They told me she was a very nice filly, so I knew she had speed. She doesn’t have a really nice way of going, but she’s fast. I think that will come with time, she needs to mature a little bit. She’s gutsy, that one.”

Drawing the rail in Saturday’s final, a key advantage in the eyes of her pilot, she will be angling to claim her fair share of the $50,000 purse. The daughter of Ponder - Rapid Jenna will be looking to dominate on the Alberta circuit before trucking to Kentucky to fulfill other stake engagements.

In the latter half of Alberta Downs' stakes weekend, Cullen will be in the hunt with Great Quote in the Brad Gunn Final on Sunday. Last week’s elimination saw the Well Said gelding edged out by a head to claim second with a mile in 1:53.4, closing in 27.1.

“As long as he gets a good trip and draws decent, there are some nice horses he could beat. He impressed me his last start. He seems to be getting stronger and was coming hard still at the wire in his elimination.”

Cullen, the first recipient of the Rising Star Award at the O’Briens, is continuing to find success out West. Having surpassed one million dollars in career earnings as a driver, he has won in excess of one thousand races in the bike and as conditioner.

With a variety of possibilities in his future, this coming winter has been a subject of serious consideration. A lack of racing through January to March is compelling him to head elsewhere and give racing in another jurisdiction a try.

“I don’t know what to do yet, but I’m too young to sit here and wait. I’m going to try my best, wherever I go.”

The Ralph Klein Final on Saturday is part of Alberta Downs' Ralph Klein Day. Ralph was elected to his first term as Mayor of Calgary in October of 1980. In March of 1989, he moved into Provincial Politics and was elected as the Progressive Conservative MLA for Calgary Elbow and was named Environment Minister a short time later.

In 1992, Ralph was elected by his party to replace retiring Premier Don Getty and was sworn in as Premier on December 14th of that year. He was once again elected to govern Alberta in the next election in June 1993 which was the first of many elections that he won. After fourteen years as premier, he retired on December 2, 2006. Sadly on Friday, March 29, 2013 we lost Ralph to illness.

Ralph was a long-time proponent of Harness Racing. Ralph attended the races frequently at Northlands Park and enjoyed talking with people that were knowledgeable with Standardbreds. Ralph is remembered for fondly loving our sport and often took the harness seat to drive in the annual “Premier’s Challenge for Charity”. He reflected his driving experiences as quite a rush. He was still an owner in the Don Monkman Stable showing his continued support for an industry he loved.

In 2006, Klein was honoured at Northlands with a statue, "dedicated by the Alberta Horse Racing and Breeding Industry to the Honorable Ralph Klein, in appreciation of his efforts and contributions towards industry revitalization."

Ralph will always be remembered and honoured in Alberta with the Ralph Klein Breeders Stakes for three-year-old Fillies.

Ralph Klein on the Rick Mercer Report, 2006

Shannon 'Sugar' Doyle will return to Alberta Downs to serve at the emcee for the day. With promotions geared towards family fun and fan appreciation, the track will be offering a petting zoo, carnival games and prizes with $2,000 in betting vouchers to give away. Going to post at 1:15 p.m., Alberta Downs has put together a weekend of exciting stakes action and events.

To view entries for this weekend's cards of harness racing at Alberta Downs, click one of the following links: Saturday Entries - Alberta Downs - Sunday Entries - Alberta Downs.

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