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November 7-22, 2014, Oklahoma City

3-Year-Old Mares

Exceptional Playgirl takes home the gold trophy.

Exceptional Playgirl and AQHA Professional Horseman Luke Castle

Exceptional Playgirl was hoping to find some candy during her World Show class, said the mare's trainer, AQHA Professional Horseman Luke Castle.

Ask AQHA Professional Horseman Luke Castle to describe 3-year-old Exceptional Playgirl, and he keeps coming back to the same word: pretty.

“She’s gorgeous. She’s jet black, she’s just got a pretty head and neck, shoulder, back (and) croup on her. She’s a tremendous profiling mare, just a lot of breed characteristics, just a really pretty mare. Pretty.”

Judges at the 2012 AQHA World Championship Show agreed with him, naming Exceptional Playgirl the top mare in her age group on November 17.

She seemed fresh and ready to show, something that Luke said he builds into his program.

“We like to get them qualified, pick certain shows that the customers want to go to, and then we take them home and let them down, let them be horses, turn them out. Some of them we ride.”

Exceptional Playgirl, who has been in Luke’s barn for two years, is one of those riding horses.

“She is broke to ride,” he said.” I don’t know how much she likes it, but she rides. They’re made to ride, so we like to break a lot of them (to saddle).”

She has been in work about 20 minutes a day for the past three months, he said. And, thanks to her personality, that has been time easily spent for the staff at Castle Ranch in Wayne, Oklahoma.

“She’s a tremendous mare to be around, really good-minded, a sweetheart to be around,” Luke said. In the World Show arena, she nibbled Luke’s hand. He laughed and explained: “She wants her candy, is what she wants.”

In the past two years, Exceptional Playgirl has been a world champion at the Adequan Select World Championship Show, a reserve open world champion and a reserve amateur world champion. She was also grand champion at the Fort Worth Stock Show this year.

“She has been a really good mare for us,” Luke said.

Owned by Kevin McCary of Mansfield, Texas, and bred by Chanci C. McKinnon of Rosenberg, Texas, Exceptional Playgirl’s next starring role will be as a mother – although just by proxy.

Via embryo transfer, she’ll be the dam of a 2013 foal by PTMA Star Kid. Her dam was an exceptional producer, so Luke and Kevin are waiting to see if Exceptional Playgirl can follow in those hoofprints.

“I’m sure we’ll do a couple more (embryo transfers), see what her babies look like,” Luke said. “We’re really excited to see what she has.”

While Luke did his Journal Winning Run interview, his 9-year-old daughter, Coralee, stood by his side.

“She actually ponies the horses at home,” Luke said of his daughter. “She’s good help.”

She certainly was proud to share in this win, and Luke wanted to give credit where credit was due.

“I just want to thank all my customers and owners and all my staff at home,” he said. “Everybody helps us, the kids help us at the place. It’s a group effort to get things like this.”