Park Place Captures World Polo League’s Triple Crown Of Polo

Triple Crown of Polo champion Park Place players Andrey Borodin, Hilario Ulloa, Juan Britos and Joaquin Panelo. Photo by Candace Ferreira

In an emotionally charged game, Park Place won its first World Polo League Triple Crown of Polo on Saturday, April 20 at the Grand Champions Polo Club in Wellington.

Park Place (Andrey Borodin, Juan Britos, Hilario Ulloa and Joaquin Panelo) held on for a thrilling 12-11 victory over defending champion and previously undefeated Audi (Marc Ganzi, Nacho Figueras, Jeta Castagnola and Pablo MacDonough).

It was the second World Polo League tournament title for the Park Place team, making its 26-goal WPL season debut. Park Place also won the Founders Cup.

Other tournament winners in the most competitive WPL season in the league’s six-year history were Audi in the All-Star Challenge and Casablanca in the Palm Beach Open.

Joaquin Panelo, the team’s unsung hero, was named Most Valuable Player.

Three Best Playing Pony blankets were awarded. Senora Queen, played by Ulloa, was the Argentino BPP. Chalo Netflix, played by Castagnola, was the American Polo Horse Association BPP. Delta, played and owned by Borodin, was the World Polo League BPP.

Borodin was also given the Winning Patron Award by Reto Gaudenzi, the godfather of snow polo. Gaudenzi presented him with a five-day stay in St. Moritz, home of the world’s only high-goal tournament on snow.

The championship final lived up to expectations as one of the best finals in World Polo League history with the lead changing hands 12 times.

Like a prizefight, both physical teams played consistently well with punches and counter punches. Park Place opened with a 2-1 opening chukker lead, including one handicap goal. Audi bounced back with a 2-1 second chukker for a 3-3 tie. With three goals from Ulloa, Park Place had a big 3-1 third chukker and led at halftime, 6-4.

Audi had its big 3-1 chukker in the fourth behind two Castagnola goals and one Ganzi goal to tie again 7-7. Playing its best horses, Park Place outscored Audi, 4-2, in the fifth chukker to take an 11-9 lead.

As expected, the game came down to the sixth chukker, where Audi shut out Park Place, 2-0, but fell short of rallying to send the game into overtime. Audi ended up outscoring Park Place 7-5 in the second half.

Audi had one final scoring opportunity in the closing 57 seconds of regulation time but had a 30-yard penalty conversion bounced off the post. Audi had one final possession with six seconds left but ran out of time.

Ulloa scored a team-high six goals. Panelo had four and Britos added one. The team was awarded one goal on handicap.

Castagnola scored a game-high 10 goals for Audi. He finished as the tournament’s leading scorer with 34 goals. Ganzi added one goal.

Lake Worth-based Team Fastrax professional skydiving team made an impressive entrance with the American and World Polo League flags to open the pre-game festivities, which included tandem-diving with WPL co-founder and Grand Champions Polo Club President Melissa Ganzi landing perfectly at mid-field.

“That was a pretty cool entrance,” Nic Roldan said.

Latina rock star Galxara gave a stirring rendition of the national anthem.

Before the opening throw-in, a moment of silence was held for Hall of Famer Glen Holden, a former American polo player and U.S. Ambassador to Jamaica, who died Friday, April 19. He would have been 97 in July.

In the semifinals, Audi advanced with a 10-9 win over Travieso (Teo Calle, Mackie Weisz, Nic Roldan and Juan Martin Zubia), 10-9. Park Place defeated Casablanca (Grant Ganzi, Hilario Figueras, Rufino Bensadon and Sapo Caset,), 11-8.

The crown jewel and fourth and final 26-goal tournament of the season attracted eight teams for the two-week tournament.

The Triple Crown of Polo trophy is comprised of three separate trophies that fit perfectly together to create an entire polo scene that is breathtaking in sterling silver. As WPL tournament winners, Park Place players’ names will be inscribed on the trophy.