Leads Isla Carroll Over White Birch 10-6 To Capture Stanford Financial
Group - 100th U.S. Open Polo Championships At International Polo Club
Sentimental favorite Isla Carroll, led by Hall of Famer Memo
Gracida, scored eight consecutive goals en route to a 10-6 victory
over White Birch in the championship match of the Stanford Financial
Group 100th U.S. Open Polo Championship in front of 6,896
spectators at International Polo Club Palm Beach on Sunday.
was the 16th U.S. Open championship for the 47-year-old Gracida,
whose handicap was lowered to 9 goals at the beginning of the 2004
season after more than 20 years as a 10-goaler. His first title
was in 1977 with Retama. His 15th U.S. Open crown was in 1997 with
Isla Carroll. It was his experience that provided leadership for
(White Birch) were very quick, very accurate in the beginning,
said Gracida. At halftime, we were one goal ahead and we got
confidence. I told them we were not playing our best and we were
one goal ahead, so we needed to keep working the hard the next three
chukkers. The team worked very well.
Birch defeated Isla Carroll 14-9 in the first round of the tournament
and it looked like it might be a repeat. White Birch scored the
first three goals but Isla Carroll responded with four unanswered
goals, two by Pancho Bensadon and two by Sugar Erskine.
second half belonged to Isla Carroll as Bensadon scored two goals
in the fourth and fifth chukkers eight consecutive goals
to give Isla Carroll a commanding 8-3 advantage heading into
the final chukker.
Birch cut the margin to 8-5 with 5:57 remaining on two goals by
10-goaler Mariano Aguerre in a 42-second span, but could not come
was the fourth U.S. Open final Peter Brants White Birch has
lost. It is still the only high-goal tournament the team has not
a great feeling, something we worked for all year, said John
Goodman, the Isla Carroll patron who built International Polo Club.
It was Isla Carrolls second U.S. Open title. Isla Carroll
defeated White Birch 10-6 in the 1997 title game.
Pancho Bensadon scored eight goals for the third consecutive game
to lead Isla Carroll and was named the Most Valuable Player.
I score the goals, but that doesnt mean too much, said
Bensadon, who finished as the tournaments leading scorer with
44 goals in seven games. The work of the team was the main
thing in this final.
praised his teammates at a post-match press conference.
had a fantastic tournament, not only the final, but the whole tournament
he played above his handicap, said Gracida. John (Goodman)
has been a very good asset to the team. Hes worked very hard.
Sugar, hes a warrior. He never gives up, he fights
a motor, he works and works and works and works. Defensively, he
was very good. Normally we have him on the offense, but today he
played more defense and I think it gave me a little more freedom
in the middle of the field. Im just very happy.
Birch missed several scoring opportunities in the second half.
just had a bad day, said Aguerre, who finished with three
goals in the final and 36 for the tournament. Theyre
great winners. John (Gooman), after all hes done for polo,
deserves this trophy more than anyone else.
horses got a little tired, but we didnt lose because of the
horses. We lost because we couldnt keep up with the plan.
Lucas Criado scored two goals for White Birch and 3-goaler Del Walton
added one goal. Patron Peter Brant did not score.
is expected that International Polo Club Palm Beach will host the
U.S. Open for the next two years. An official announcement is expected
soon, according to club officials.
seasons largest crowd featured many celebrities, including
Star Jones of ABCs The View and actress Nicolette
Sheridan of Knots Landing, who participated in the pre-game
coin toss and awarded the MVP trophy to Bensadon.
feel honored just to have this shirt (red Isla Carroll jersey) on
today, said Erskine, who finished with two goals. I
feel honored to be playing with Memo Gracida in this tournament.
I was 2 when he won his first one (in 1977).
feel like I shouldnt even be here. Ten years ago, I was just
starting out and messing around and John Goodman took me under his
wing. I feel like I cant believe the dream. I keep pinching
teams, featuring 10 10-goalers, entered the Stanford Financial Group
U.S. Open Polo Championship, the most prestigious polo tournament
in North America, highlighting the historic inaugural polo season
at the International Polo Club Palm Beach. Fifteen teams, in 2002,
is the record for teams in a U.S. Open.
Stanford Financial Group U.S. Open was played on the International
Polo Club Palm Beachs five world-class Bermuda-grass playing
Houston-based Stanford Financial Group, a privately-held global
network of affiliated companies, has signed on as the title sponsor
of the 100th U.S. Open Polo Championship in 2004. Stanfords
family of companies provides international private banking, trust
and brokerage services and real estate development. Currently, the
Stanford organization manages in excess of $17 billion in deposits
and assets, serving clients on six continents. The success of the
group is the result of entrepreneurial spirit and drive spearheaded
by third generation Chairman and CEO R. Allen Stanford.
the high-goal teams on the field, the International Polo Club Palm
Beach has amassed a lineup of prestigious sponsors for the U.S.
Open. The Stanford Financial Group U.S. Open tournament will
feature a different presenting sponsor every Sunday, including Bombardier
Aerospace, Cunard Ltd. and HUMMER, Mitchell-Peck Jewelers, Piaget,
Roderer Estate, Kubota and Roder.
Polo Club Palm Beach is located at 3667 120th Avenue South, between
Pierson Road and Lake Worth Road, in Wellington.