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Opening Day Filled With Glamour, Furious Action At New International Polo Club Palm Beach

WELLINGTON, Florida, January 6, 2004 -- Glamour and riveting action went hand in hand as a new era in high-goal polo in the United States began with the historic grand opening of the International Polo Club Palm Beach on Sunday (Jan. 4).

"This is the exciting start of a new tradition," said International Polo Club Palm Beach General Manager Michael Brown. "John and Carroll Goodman have built a world-class polo facility that is open to everyone."

At halftime, a helicopter delivered champagne to midfield where the bubbly was served from the backs of a quartet of Hummers, official vehicles of the club. Beautiful models showed off the latest fashions from major designers throughout the day. Prior to the match, more than 350 guests enjoyed a delicious buffet catered by The Breakers. Gentlemen wore blue blazers and khaki's while many women sported beautiful hats while others preferred more casual attire.

Eighteen-year-old Lauren Jerencovich of Wellington sang the national anthem followed by the ceremonial coin toss with Village of Wellington Mayor Tom Wenham and Joan Lunden's daughter, Jamie Kraus. Congressman Mark Foley was among the more than 2,100 spectators who enjoyed the action on and off the field.

A who's who of polo were on hand, including patrons Tim Gannon of Outback Steakhouse, Christine Cato of Brigadoon, George Rawlings of Crab Orchard and Bill Ylvisaker, the founder of Palm Beach Polo, as well as polo superstars Mike Azzaro, Memo Gracida, Carlos Gracida, Julio Arellano, Pite Merlos and Sebastian Merlos.
The post-match trophy presentation was highlighted by a champagne toast and three cheers, led by Gannon, in which players and guests raised their glasses in honor of the first of many fantastic days of high-goal polo to come.

The action on the field was fast and furious with the inaugural stadium game.

Bob Daniels' Pony Express outscored Tommy Lee Jones' San Saba 7-1 in the final three chukkers en route to a 13-9 victory in the 22-goal Joe Barry Memorial tournament. Trailing 8-6 early in the fourth chukker, Pony Express tied the game with nine seconds remaining on Alex Agote's one-yard penalty shot. Pony Express then dominated the fifth and sixth chukkers.

"We didn't do much different in the fifth and sixth chukkers," said Agote, an 8-goaler. "At the beginning of the game, things weren't working. But as the game went on, things started to work.

"We were trying to put a lot of pressure on Agustin Merlos and keep the ball away from him. When he has the ball, he is very dangerous."
Merlos, a 9-goaler who finished with a team-high five goals, scored on a breakaway with 2:47 remaining in the fifth chukker to cut the margin to 10-9, but San Saba could not tie the game.

Pony Express scored twice in the final 59 seconds of the fifth chukker to increase the margin to 12-9; Jeff Blake stole the ball and hit a 40-yard forehand for an 11-9 lead and then Sapo Caset made a nice spin move to deke a defender and dribbled in for a 10-yard forehand with 15 seconds left to make it 12-9.

"We got a little bit frantic in the fifth and sixth chukkers," said San Saba's Hector Galindo, who finished with three goals. "We made too many mistakes and they took advantage. Then, it was too late by the time we decided to make a comeback."

Blake, who played well defensively in the decisive second half comeback, was named the game's Most Valuable Player.

Games are open to the public. Tickets begin at $10 per person and are available at the gate or by calling (561) 204-5687.

International Polo Club Palm Beach is located at 3667 120th Avenue South in Wellington. From I-95, take the Forest Hill Boulevard exit and go west approximately 12 miles. Turn left onto South Shore Boulevard and go two miles. Turn left onto Pierson Road, travel about one mile and then make a right onto 120th Avenue South. The club is on the right. From Florida's Turnpike, take Exit 93 (Lake Worth Road) and go west about six miles. Make a right onto 120th Avenue South. The club is on the left.


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