Audi won its first tournament of the summer polo season Sunday in front of a packed house at McClure River Ranch. Audi (Lauren Sherry, Salvador Ulloa, Nic Roldan, Marc Ganzi) took control early and led from start-to-finish to defeat La Karina (Carlitos Gracida, Brian Boyd, Lucas Lalor, Sebastian Merlos), 10-6, to capture the inaugural Labor Day Challenge. Argentine 7-goaler Salvadore Ulloa, known throughout the season as “Mr. Hustle,” was named Game and Season Most Valuable Player. Maestra was selected Best Playing Pony.
Audi jumped out to a 2-0 lead and pulled away for a 4-1 lead after two chukkers. Playing well defensively, Audi never let La Karina into the game which had problems finding consistency in its offense. Audi led 6-3 at the half and outscored La Karina, 4-3, in the second half.
Roldan led Audi with a game-high four goals. Ulloa and Ganzi each had three goals. Gracida led La Karina with three goals. Merlos had two goals and Boyd added one goal.
In the Just For The Love Of It subsidiary game, Flexjet (Melissa Ganzi, Alejandra Foster, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, Hilario Ulloa) edged Los Amigos Red (Gussie Busch, Tincho Merlos, Nacho Novillo Astrada, Paul Foster), 9-8.
Ulloa was Most Valuable Player. It was Ulloa’s final appearance in Aspen. He was scheduled to return to Argentina on Monday. “Thank you Aspen,” Ulloa said during the awards ceremony. Rebecca, a 17-year-old mare played and owned by Melissa Ganzi, was Best Playing Pony. In the highlight of the game, Ulloa broke his mallet during a play but was able to carry the ball downfield dropping it in front of the goal posts to enable Alejandra Foster to score.
Flexjet led 8-6 going into the sixth chukker and 9-7 after Melissa Ganzi scored. Paul Foster converted a 30-yard penalty but ran out of time. For Flexjet, Ganzi scored a game-high six goals. Foster had two goals and Ulloa added one. Paul Foster led Los Amigos Red with three goals. Nacho Novillo Astrada had and Merlos each had two goals and Busch added one.
In the Just For The Thrill Of It Cup, McClure River Ranch (Pablo Spinacci, Juancito Bollini, Jared Zenni, Stewart Armstrong) defeated Mountain Chevrolet (Michael Payne, Kris Kampsen, Alfredo Bigatti, Juan Bollini), 10-6. Spinacci was Most Valuable Player and NASA, an 8-year-old American thoroughbred played by Bigatti, was Best Playing Pony.
McClure River Ranch pulled away for a 6-3 lead after the second chukker and led by one at the half, 6-5. Payne’s goal early in the fourth chukker tied the game at 6-6 but back-to-back penalty conversions by Zenni enabled McClure River Ranch to pull away for good.
For McClure River Ranch, Zenni scored a game-high five goals. Spinacci added three goals and Juancito Bollini had two goals. Payne led Mountain Chevrolet with three goals. Kampsen, Bigatti and Juan Bollini each had one goal.
On Monday, the Battle of the Sexes will pit women against men with a twist at Aspen Valley Polo Club at 11 a.m. McClure River Ranch Pink (Melissa Ganzi, Alejandra Foster, Lauren Sherry, Juan Bollini) will play McClure River Ranch Cream (Paul Foster, Brian Boyd, Grant Ganzi, Stewart Armstrong).
During Sunday’s tripleheader, Aspen Valley Polo Club fans and players helped celebrate Labor Day, a day set aside to pay tribute to working men and women, that have helped provide the social, political and economic backbone of this country. It has been celebrated as a national holiday in the United States and Canada since 1894.