After eight years of patiently waiting from the time of embryo transfer, Sapo Caset is finally seeing the desired results come to fruition in 7-year-old Niña Loli. Her name paying homage to her mother, a seasoned veteran of the Argentine Triple Crown, Niña Loli (Dolfina Popular x Loly) is a promising young homebred who has quickly developed into the ideal combination of her prized parents. Inheriting her sire’s supple mouth and Loly’s limitless endurance and temperament, the bay mare proved herself early on to be one of the best of the 10-goaler’s career.
Tapping into a woman’s intuition, Sapo’s wife Ines believed Niña Loli would be a star before she was foaled, winning a long-standing bet with her husband to see which of their embryo choices would outperform the other. Although Niña Loli’s GAUNTLET OF POLO® debut was cut short with the polo suspension in 2020, she has returned refreshed and ready to seize plays for Tonkawa in 2021, blossoming with every passing game in only her second year. Playing alongside her father in Caset’s string, Niña Loli is bringing the second generation of horsepower to the green machine.
Tell us about her breeding.
“Niña Loli is really special because she’s the daughter of two horses that I love. She’s a homebred by Dolfina Popular and out of an Argentine Thoroughbred mare named Loly, both horses I played in the Argentine Triple Crown. I bought Loly when she was five-years-old and played her for twelve seasons in the Argentine Triple Crown. I was 6-goals when I started playing her and she took me all the way to 10-goals. She was my best mare at the time.
2020 was Loly’s last season with me in Argentina and I was really happy to be able to play her in the Argentine Open with Murus Sanctus Polo (Facundo Sola, Francisco Elizalde, Sapo Caset, Alfredo Cappella). She has given me so many years of good polo and I think that was a really good last tournament before her retirement. Now I’m starting to play Loly’s sons and daughters and Niña Loli is one of the first mares I got from her through embryo transfer. Her sire Dolfina Popular is also playing in the GAUNTLET OF POLO® again this season.”
Niña Loli leads the field pursued by Gonzalito Pieres. ©Jaime Cabrera.
What characteristics from the parents do you see in Niña Loli?
“Niña Loli has the best qualities of both her parents because she has the mouth and the handiness of Dolfina Popular and the power and strength of Loly. Loly was a bigger mare and she could run forever so I would play her in two chukkers. Niña Loli is the same as her mother because she doesn’t get tired, but at the same time she has those other qualities. She’s a bit bigger, wider than Dolfina Popular, but she’s smaller than Loly so she is the perfect size for polo.”
Niña Loli competing with Sapo Caset in the 2021 GAUNTLET OF POLO®. ©David Lominska
“Niña Loli has all the gears, a really good mouth and she’s the perfect size. She’s a mare that can play any level of polo and I think she is one of the best mares I’ve played in my life.” – Sapo Caset
Tell us about the bet you and your wife made?
“Every year I let Ines choose one embryo before they’re born and that year she chose Niña Loli. We made a bet and I said, ‘okay you chose this one and I will choose another one and we’ll see which one gets better.’ And for sure Niña Loli is much better than the one I chose! Every time somebody asks me about Niña Loli Ines says, ‘but did you tell them that she’s mine?’”
When did you realize she had the potential to be one of the top horses in your string?
“She was always the best of the group of 15 to 20 young horses that year in Argentina. Emiliano Curone is in charge of my breeding operation in Argentina and he told me that Niña Loli was by far the best one. Once they started playing slow chukkers at four-years-old Pepe Bresan told me the same thing. Since I don’t have a lot of time to ride the young horses when I’m in Argentina my father Guillermo said, ‘why don’t you take her to the United States?’ She was turning five and had already learned everything she could. About two years ago I brought her just to play practices in Aspen, Colorado, and I played her the whole summer. She was like all my 10-year-old mares at half their age, but I didn’t want to push her too early. She was ready to play, her mind was amazing, but I decided to give her a little more time.
In 2020 when I came to Florida I said I wasn’t going to play her in any games. I started playing her in practices and at six-years-old she turned out to be my best mare. Then I thought maybe I’d play her in a game and after the first game she started playing better and better. She was ready, but she only played for a month before polo was suspended. I didn’t want to give her a hard first season and this year when she came back you can see the difference. She’s a made horse and 2021 is the first year that I can say she is a top horse. I have some other good ones, but I think she’s amazing.”
What is her greatest quality on the field?
“I would say her power and her mouth. Niña Loli’s a really explosive mare and she has top speed. When she’s going to make a bump she goes under and pushes and you know that she wants to win that play. Sometimes even if the play is lost, she will still win it for you. She has a lot of power and she’s a champion.”
What would you like to see her achieve throughout her career?
“I would like her to win some Best Playing Pony awards in the USPA Gold Cup® or the U.S Open Polo Championship®. After she wins some tournaments here in the United States I would love to take her back to Argentina and play her in the Argentine Open. I think it would be a great accomplishment for her to play at Palermo for both my breeding program and all the people who have spent time with her and worked to get her to this point. She would make a lot of people proud including Daniel and Mariano Sgolastra, Jorgito Pees, and Sebastian Marisco who take care of her in Florida.”
What are your plans for her after the Florida season?
“After the GAUNTLET OF POLO® she’s going to rest for the remainder of the year for sure. I turn out my horses with Mimi Gracida who has a beautiful ranch in North Carolina. I really trust her and I’m comfortable with how she takes care of the horses. North Carolina has good weather in the summer and they treat the horses really well.”
What does it mean to you to play Niña Loli?
“To play a mare like Niña Loli, who you bred and have played the mother and the father, is special. And then to win a prize with her, that’s as good as it gets. I love horses and the breeding aspect of polo and when I jump on Niña Loli I have so much confidence because I’ve known her since she was a foal. Also, because I know how it feels when I played her mother and father, I know what she can do so I have so much faith in her.”