By: Brittany Bevis
Last week, when we spoke with Frank Berris about winning the Amateur Yearling Geldings class with It’s Gameday, he mentioned that he had his eye on a special mare. As it turns out, that horse was Exceptional Playgirl, a black mare by The Exceptional One and out of Playgirls Lady, that was owned by Kevin McCary.
“This is the one!” Berris says. “We bought her yesterday. We’ve been looking at her and negotiating. I love this mare. I saw her last year when she won the 3-Year-Old Mares with Luke [Castle].”
“She’s beautiful. I absolutely love her. She’s absolutely handmade. She doesn’t have a blemish on her. She’s N/N, so all of those studs are going to want to breed to this mare. Now, she’s a three time World Champion. We are going to send her to Florida with Joey Shortino.”
Berris could hardly contain his excitement about his new purchase, “Angie,” and the potential for showing in Amateur Aged Mare classes at upcoming events in 2014. He currently relies on the guidance of Ross Roark and Joey Shortino for fitting and handling his show string, but leading the mare to the win today was her former trainer, Luke Castle. Coming in Reserve was Ross Roark with Elusive Premonition.
When the individual judges cards were announced, the overall placings hung on the score of the last judge, John Lawrence. He requested that both of the mares be set up side by side for an up close comparison. After a few agonizing minutes, he gave the first place spot to Castle and Angie, which clinched the World Championship title. Berris describes the interesting situation he found himself in.
“Ross Roark and Joey Shortino are my top guns,” he says. “Ross had already committed to showing the other mare [Elusive Premonition]. It went into a dead tie. We both had two firsts, a second, and a third. Then, the last judge puts us side by side. It was kind of exciting really. It’s easy for me to say that now, but talk about having a heart attack!”
“Then, the last judge kept looking around and all that. I’ve won the World a number of times, but this had to be the most climactic finish. There are a lot of great horses in there. In my eyes, those are the two best mares in the pen.”
The class came to a charming conclusion when Castle’s daughter, Coralee, accompanied him into the winner’s circle and led Angie out of the arena. Berris spoke about Coralee and Angie’s special relationship.
“We’ve been going over and looking at the mare every day,” he says. “His daughter has been hugging on this mare and hanging on her neck and she’s so sweet. They were kissing on each other last night in the stall. She’s a perfect replacement for CK Mardi Gras, which is my all time favorite mare.”
“[Coralee] was asking me, ‘Are you going to longe her or pony her?’ So, I said, ‘What should I do?’ She said, ‘I always pony her. I’m in charge of ponying her.’ “
Although Coralee might miss Angie being in the barn at home, Berris assures he will take the very best care of this special horse.
1-Exceptional Playgirl/Luke Castle
2-Elusive Premonition/Ross Roark
4-Don’t Stare/Tom Robertson
5-Sacreds Supreme/Tyler O’Neal
6-New Star In Town/Ted Turner
7-BR Pretty Woman/Bob Kail
9-Classic Cool Coosa/Wayne Halvorson
10-I Execute Class/Clint Fullerton
1-One Exclusive Lady/Robert Johnson