On a balmy night in South Florida, hedge fund manager Joseph DiMenna lounged in his cabana at the Wanderers Club and tried to look for a silver lining after the Republican Party’s health-care overhaul failed.
President Donald Trump and his congressional allies had just called off efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare. While many investors thought that boded poorly for the tax reform Wall Street is hoping for, DiMenna said there’s an encouraging flip side for markets: Republicans may now move swiftly to focus on the tax bill.
“And now that they’ve been beaten, they will probably be much more strategic,” he said.
But for many at the club in Wellington — a 30-minute drive inland from Trump’s own club, Mar-a-Lago — politics gave way over the weekend to welcome distractions and philanthropy. DiMenna joined Bruce Springsteen and the singer’s 25-year-old daughter, Jessica, at her boyfriend Nic Roldan’s second annual Sunset Polo & White Party. The event helped raise money for Brooke USA, part of a London-based charity that seeks to end suffering for working horses and donkeys around the world.
The main attraction was a polo exhibition featuring Roldan, a third-generation polo player, and Jessica Springsteen, a champion rider, along with other pros. The hedge fund Aithon Capital Management sponsored one group, dressed to play in blue and orange, while the other team wore white with the insignia of Tito’s Handmade Vodka. It ended in a tie.
Hal Lehr, the former Deutsche Bank trader who founded Aithon, said he was drawn to the event by his love of polo. Since his friend DiMenna got him into the sport a decade ago, he’s traveled to several polo camps in Argentina, including Puesto Viejo, owned by former Goldman Sachs trader Jeremy Baker. He has also broken his nose playing polo, and said outsiders are wrong to think of it as a convivial hobby.
“It’s kind of like part chess game, part boxing,” Lehr said Friday night next to the field.
As for why he wanted to support Brooke USA, he said he’s also an animal lover who takes his 13-year-old mixed-breed rescue dog, Oscar, to work with him at Aithon on Madison Avenue.
The Boss, as Springsteen is known, attended and contributed a signed guitar to the charity auction, fetching $20,000. The event raised more than $250,000.
Roldan, a Wellington mainstay, said Brooke saw an opportunity to raise money in a community that revolves around equestrian sports, and where many celebrities, finance and business magnates have homes. Others in attendance were Hannah Selleck, daughter of actor Tom, and Jennifer Gates, daughter of Bill and Melinda. Both women are equestrians.
“We all love animals,” Roldan said after playing for Tito’s in the game, making his way across the field to the party. “My idea is just to throw a bunch of big polo exhibitions around the United States and around the world and try to promote this foundation and other foundations as well.”
DiMenna said “there’s still a lot left to happen” in the polo mecca of Wellington before it gets oppressively hot and the scene moves to the Hamptons or the U.K.