Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Polo Wraps in Wellington, Hits Miami Beach


Polo Wraps in Wellington, Opens in Miami Beach

By Skip Sheffield

Once upon a time, high-goal polo was played in Boca Raton at Royal Palm Polo Grounds.
Polo is still played at Royal Palm under the direction of Joey Casey, but it is no longer high-goal, high stakes international competition.
For that you have to go to the International Polo Club of Palm Beach in Wellington way out west on Lake Worth Boulevard.
Boca Raton Tribune columnist and photographer Mike Gora and I took the trip Sunday, April 21 to see the 109th Maserati U.S. Open Final. This is where the best of the finest polo players and horses face off for ultimate bragging rights and is the culmination of the 10th anniversary season.
The final two teams were Valiente, which beat Zacara 13-9 in the USPA Piaget Gold Cup finals a few weeks ago.
Players are rated by goals, 10 being the highest rating. Valiente has two 10-goal players, Pelon Stirling and Adolfo Cambiaso. Zacara has one 10-goal player, Facundo Pieres; an 8-goal player Magoo LaPrida and 7-goal player Mike Azzaro.
Almost all the players are from South America with the exception of Mike Azzaro, who is from the USA.
The USA spirit was set by singer-songwriter Lee Greenwood who sang his signature tune “God Bless the USA” for the first time ever at a polo match.
The competition was fast and furious with both teams rated at 26 goals. Polo is very combative both for humans and horses, and penalties were plentiful. The score was tied eight times in the hard-fought action. Ultimately Zacara triumphed over Valiente 16-13. Facundo Pieres lead all players with an incredible 12 goals, 9 by penalty, earning him Most Valuable Player. This was Zacara’s second U.S. Open Championship.
A player is only as good as his or her horse. Valiente team patron Bob Jornayvaz’s horse Medallion was voted Best Playing Pony. Concha, a 7-year old American Thoroughbred, was named Horse of the Year.
High-goal polo is over for now at International Polo Club of Palm Beach, but this weekend there will be polo of a different sort in Miami Beach.
Miami Beach Polo World Cup 2013 runs April 25-28 on the beach between 21st and 22nd Streets in Miami Beach. The action starts Thursday with a South Beach Women’s Polo Cup V Kick-Off Party and continues Friday with Miami Beach Polo Cup IX, Saturday with more World Cup IX plus La Martina Fashion Show and Sunday with Miami Beach Polo World Cup Final Play-Offs and Farewell Party.
See for more information. Palm Beach Polo’s web site is at 561-282-5334.

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