Filling a gap in Coachella Valley polo scene, Agua Caliente Casinos polo event to kick off this month

With Empire Polo Club in Indio no longer hosting the sport, a new polo event with Agua Caliente Casinos as the title sponsor is kicking off this month in the Coachella Valley. 

Agua Caliente Casinos Polo & Balloon Classic, with the marketing firm Polo America as its promoter, will host an afternoon match on Jan. 22 at a private polo field in Thermal. The day’s event will also include a hat contest, a half-time “money run” (where Agua Caliente casino chips will be thrown out into the middle of the field), vendors, wine, gourmet cheese and charcuterie platters, and a glowing line of hot air balloons to watch at the end.

Before the main event, Agua Caliente’s casino in Rancho Mirage will hold a runway fashion show on Jan. 10, with models sporting the brands Trina Turk, Grayse and Kyle x Shahida (the latter of which is the clothing line co-owned by “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star Kyle Richards), according to a press release from Polo America. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres will be served at 6 p.m. and the show will start at 6:30.

On Jan. 21, another cocktail party will be held at the Desert Jet hangar in Thermal’s Jacqueline Cochran Regional Airport. Guests can have their photo taken with the following day’s polo players, explore private jets or find a polo hat from the company Del Mar Hats. 

All-inclusive tickets in the “millionaire’s row,” which run $150 a person or $1,500 for a table of 10include all three events, a tent at the polo match and wine. The “billionaire’s row,” for $200 a person or $2,000 for 10 people, includes extras like cheese and charcuterie platters, VIP seating at the fashion show and a much larger tent with party lights. 

It was announced in November that polo matches would cease at Empire Polo Club, as part of the concert promotioncompany Goldenvoice’s planned takeover of operations at the polo grounds. The Los Angeles-based firm, behind the annual Coachella and Stagecoach festivals, is assuming full control of the grounds as part of a long-term lease agreement through 2050.

The Coachella Valley’s only other major polo venue, the adjacent Eldorado Polo Club, is also owned by Goldenvoice, though staff maintained in November that there were no plans to end polo there. The club’s Sunday matches return for the season this weekend. 

“For 35 years I’ve been promoting the sport of polo, and there’s nothing I would have rather had than Empire still being in business [with the sport], because it’s good for polo,” said Polo America president Randy Russell. “But with them closing their doors over there [with polo], this is a great way to still let people go out and enjoy this.”

The private property where Agua Caliente’s polo event will be held, called El Sarandi Polo Field, is leased by polo player Mariano Carbone, Russell said. Carbone is the CEO of M.C. Polo Horses, a company registered at that location, according to California business entity filings. 

For the past several years, the area has been used largely as a polo field for personal use during the summer, as well as for boarding and training horses, Russell said. Carbone confirmed those details in a phone call. 

This month’s polo match could “definitely” turn into an annual one, Russell added. 

“Polo has such a strong history down here in the desert,” he said. “I hate to see major events fade away. So with the use of Mariano’s field, we can keep this going.” 

To buy tickets, call Polo America at 760-668-6093 or visit its website

Amanda Ulrich writes for The Desert Sun as a Report for America corps member. Reach out on Twitter at @AmandaCUlrich or via email at 

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