U.S. Open Polo Championship® – Semifinals

Valiente and Park Place to Face Off for U.S. Open Polo Championship®

Semifinal action in the U.S. Open Polo Championship hosted by the National Polo Center – Wellington (NPC) featured Valiente (Bob Jornayvaz, Mariano ‘Peke’ Gonzalez, Lucas ‘Luckitas’ Criado Jr., Adolfo Cambiaso, sub. Agustin Nero, sub. Rufino Merlos) facing Pilot (Curtis Pilot, Matias ‘Colo’ Gonzalez, Matias Torres Zavaleta, Facundo Pieres) followed by Park Place (Andrey Borodin, Juan Britos, Hilario Ulloa, Jason Wates) against M A G (Santino Magrini, Ignacio ‘Nachi’ Viana, Kristos ‘Keko’ Magrini, Santiago ‘Santi’ Toccalino).

Kicking off Thursday’s play, Valiente and Pilot began their contested match-up trading goals in open play, including Pieres earning his 105th goal of the Gauntlet to break his previously held season single scoring record. Following an injury sustained by Criado Jr., Agustin Nero and Rufino Merlos entered as substitutions. Facing a four-minute penalty, Cambiaso managed to guide his team shorthanded and keep Valiente in contention. Nearly identical in shots taken, Pilot took a slight edge in accuracy from the field to take a narrow 6-5 lead at the half. Outscoring Pilot in the fourth, contributions from Cambiaso and Gonzalez brought Valiente within one. Powering his team on both sides of the ball through adversity, Cambiaso promptly hit his third forth of the match as Valiente rose to earn their place in the final with the 11-9 victory.

Determining the remining spot in the final, 10-goaler Ulloa scored within the first minute of play to set the tone for Park Place’s offensive attack. Entering the semifinals as one of the most balanced teams in the competition, efforts from M A G’s Santino Magrini, Toccalino and Viana were no match for a five-goal effort from Ulloa, giving Park Place a 6-4 advantage at the break. Holding Keko Magrini to just two shots from the field, M A G’s leading scorer finally broke through in the fifth to make his first appearance on the scoreboard. Trailing by four to open the sixth, Toccalino and Santino Magrini attempted to push M A G to a late comeback, but ultimately fell short as Park Place’s consistent play from the outset sealed the 11-8 win.

Best Playing Pony was awarded to “J5/Dolfina Squirrel,” played by Adolfo Cambiaso, owned by J5 Equestrian and “Lavinia Irupe,” played and owned by Hilario Ulloa.

2023 Year End Horse Awards were awarded to the following:
Best String – Francisco Elizalde.
Wembley Award – Horse exhibiting excellence and longevity in high-goal polo: “Caraqueña,” played by Poroto Cambiaso, owned by La Dolfina.
Best American Bred – Outstanding American bred horse in the Gauntlet series: “JP Border Line,” played by Lucas ‘Luckitas’ Criado Jr., owned by Lucas Criado.
Horse of the Year – Best Playing Pony in the Gauntlet series: “Cabe Bailarina,” played by Poroto Cambiaso, owned by La Dolfina.

Upcoming Schedule
U.S. Open Polo Championship Final
Sunday, April 23
Park Place vs Valiente at 3:00pm ET
The U.S. Open Polo Championship Final will be livestreamed exclusively on the USPA Polo Network.

Photo Credit: David Lominska