The first 18-goal tournament of the Port Mayaca Polo Club (Okeechobee, Florida) season, the Butler Handicap® pitted undefeated Postage Stamp Farm (Annabelle Gundlach, Facundo Obregon, Mariano Aguerre, Brandon Phillips, sub. Matias Gonzalez*) against Old Hickory Bourbon (Lucas Escobar*, Matias Magrini, Santino Magrini*, Stevie Orthwein, sub. Kristos ‘Keko’ Magrini*) in a rematch of their bracket game where Postage Farm narrowly captured the one-goal victory. Redeeming their earlier defeat, Old Hickory Bourbon emerged on top in the final on Friday, March 5, thanks to the seven-goal effort from Santino Magrini to raise the historic trophy 12-9.
Bringing in Keko Magrini to fill in for Escobar, Old Hickory Bourbon began with one goal on handicap and quickly added to their lead, driving downfield and receiving a Penalty 1. Postage Stamp Farm built an attack of their own which resulted in Aguerre also receiving a Penalty 1 to restore the one-goal difference on handicap. Foul trouble on both sides carried into the second chukker as Old Hickory Bourbon converted a Penalty 2, neither team yet to score from the field. Aguerre raced forward to put the first field goal on the scoreboard in the third, securing three goals and giving Postage Stamp Farm their first lead of the game 5-4 heading into halftime.
Postage Stamp Farm’s Matias Gonzalez leads the pack.
Strategizing during halftime, Old Hickory Bourbon reorganized their defense and limited opportunities for Postage Stamp Farm keeping their opponents scoreless in the fourth and fifth chukkers. “We learned a lot in our first matchup, most importantly that the game isn’t over until it’s over,” Orthwein said reflecting on the first game against Postage Stamp Farm. “The last time we thought we had them beat, but they made an awesome comeback to take us down in the final minute. That memory was certainly in our mind today and really made us stay focused until the final horn.” In the decisive stretch of the game, Santino Magrini dominanted the first seven minutes of the second half with three goals, Old Hickory Bourbon adding five total in the fourth. Maintaining possession, Old Hickory Bourbon ultimately produced a run of seven unanswered goals with contributions from brothers Santino and Kristos Magrini, along with two goals from Orthwein to carry them into the sixth chukker holding a commanding 10-5 lead. A determined effort from Postage Stamp Farm in the final few minutes cut the deficit to three, but they could not overcome the exceptional offensive performance from Santino Magrini, who added two more goals in the final chukker to cap off Old Hickory Bourbon’s 12-9 win.
Old Hickory Bourbon’s Stephen Orthwein Jr. was awarded Most Valuable Player, scoring three goals.
Capturing his fourth Butler Handicap® title, the past two years with his brother Keko, Santino Magrini was happy to win for the first time with his father. “It always feels great to win and even better playing with family!” Santino Magrini said. “We played very well as a team and in our positions so I think that’s what helped us to succeed.” “I’m having a blast playing with my boys, they are playing amazing and I enjoyed it a lot,” Matias Magrini shared. “Stevie [Orthwein] was great offensively and he played outstanding too. Also our horses played very well, they are in perfect shape,” Magrini senior continued.
Stevie Orthwein was named Most Valuable Player. “We really came together as a team over the tournament,” Orthwein said. “At times we all individually played well, but today we got our system going and really worked well together.”
Best Playing Pony Machitos Chela, played and owned by Mariano Aguerre. Presented by Peter Orthwein, pictured with Naca Nicora and Gustavo Echeverria.
Best Playing Pony honors were awarded to 12-year-old mare Machitos Chela (Sportivo x Machitos Jazz), owned and played by Mariano Aguerre in the second and fifth chukkers. “She is the full sister of Machitos Jazzita, so genetically she’s my best!” Aguerre said. “She has a great amount of power and control.”
Adding his name to the Butler Handicap® trophy as his father and brother did before him, Stevie Orthwein was proud of the accomplishment. “There is a lot of history with this trophy and looking back over the past winners makes the cup that much more special,” Orthwein remarked.
*Matias Gonzalez, Lucas Escobar, Santino Magrini and Keko Magrini are Active Team USPA Members. Team USPA is a USPA program designed to enhance and grow the sport of polo in the United States by identifying young, talented American players and providing mentored training and playing opportunities leading to a pool of higher rated amateur and pro players and the resultant giveback to the sport of polo.
All photos courtesy of ©David Lominska.