Driving members of the polo community met on Wednesday to present the brand new 22-goal series to be hosted at the International Polo Club Palm Beach. David Cummings, Chairman of the USPAGL Board, Bob Puetz, CEO of the USPA, Mark Bellissimo, CEO of International Polo Club, and George Linley, executive director of Palm Beach County Sports Commission collaborated to form a panel to discuss the brand new Gauntlet of Polo. The panel was facilitated by president and CEO of USPA Global Licensing, Michael Prince.
The Gauntlet of Polo, set to begin with the C.V. Whitney Cup on February 13, will feature three tournaments and a significant boost in prize money from previous years. Winners of the C.V. Whitney Cup will receive $125,000 in prize money. The second leg of the series, the USPA Gold Cup, will see winners receive another $125,000 of prize money. The finale of the tournament series, the US Open Polo Championships, will offer $250,000 to the winning team in addition to a potential $500,000 bonus if one team is able to capture the win in all three.
In addition to detailing the specifics of each tournament, panel members noted on the success that the Gauntlet of Polo tournament series has already brought the sport of polo.
Bob Puetz discussed the increase in participation, “We have 16 teams participating in this series. This is a record for the US Open and most of these teams are brand new. It’s very unique to have 16 different teams commit to two and a half months of polo, in incredibly prestigious tournaments.”
Another element of the series that stands out as unique is the new goal level of all three tournaments. Although there was some resistance to lowering the level from 26-goal to 22-goal, Mark Bellissimo discussed how the more accessible goal level, in addition to the increase in prize money, has made the series appealing to so many teams.
“22-goals is now the new American standard. Argentina, Spain, and Dubai now all have 22-goal tournaments. So we’re now standardized around something that is capable of being more long term,” Bellissimo commented.
Also in attendance to speak on a panel were players who will be participating in all portions of the tournament. Jared Zenni, Agustin Merlos, and Luis Escobar all represented their respective teams Daily Racing Form, Tonkawa, and Santa Clara. Players noted on their hunger to win all three tournaments in order to take home the $1,000,000 in prize money for the Gauntlet of Polo.
The first game of the series will take place on February 13 at the International Polo Club with the C.V. Whitney Cup. Following, the USPA Gold cup will begin on February 24. The final, the US Open Polo Championship, will begin on March 27, with the finals being broadcasted nationally and internationally on CBS Sports.