Teddy Roosevelt might have been the last President to play the game but newly-elected President Donald Trump fielded his own polo team during the heydays of the Atlantic City casinos.
Under the leadership of Gary Sawhill, the Trump Polo Club became a member of the United States Polo Association in 1985. The club operated out of Sawhill’s Mattix Run Equestrian Center in Smithfield New Jersey, and the Trump Polo Team toured the East Coast from1985 thru1987.
Guerry “Boone” Stribling was playing with Dick and Laura Kates out of the Far Hills Polo Club in Oldwick, New Jersey when they traveled to Smithfield for a match.
“We killed them,” Stribling recalled, “and a month later Gary (Sawhill) approached me about putting a team together to play for Donald Trump’s casinos in neighboring Atlantic City.”
At the age of twenty-one Stribling organized the horses and the players while Sawhill, through a relationship with Dave Hanlin, the manager of Trump’s casinos in Atlantic City, arranged for Trump to sponsor the team.
“We toured up and down the East Coast,” recalls Stribling, “from Washington, D.C. to Boston. “We were treated like rock stars.”
The team 12-goal team consisted of Stribling (2), Sawhill (0), Esteban Panelo (6) and Bryan Pritchard (4) (there were a few games where Marcos Panelo replaced Pritchard). Stribling would ultimately achieve a 6-goal rating while Panelo would rise to 9-goals before an untimely accident on the field would put an end to his high-goal career.
The team operated like a fine-tuned clock,” said Stribling, “and over the course of our tours we ran up a 21-0 record.
The likelihood of Trump sponsoring another polo team in the near future, however, appears to be remote.
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photo: (L to R)-Esteban Panelo, Marcos Panelo, Boone Stribling and Brian Pritchard played on the 21-0 Trump Polo Team in the md-1980s.