Last Sunday, August 13, a sold-out crowd enjoyed the opening matches of the Gulfstream Pacific Coast Open (PCO) at the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club in Carpinteria. According to U.S. Polo Association (USPA) Chair Joe Meyer, “this competition continues to serve as the most highly anticipated high-goal tournament on the Pacific Coast.”
Hosted by the USPA and the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club (SBPRC), the tournament once again features six top teams: defending champion Restoration Hardware, Farmers & Merchants Bank, Klentner Ranch, Lucchese, Santa Clara, and Sol de Agosto. The tournament dates back to 1909 and has been held at the SBPRC since 1952.
The final match of the day, which drew the biggest crowd, pitted Klentner Ranch, with star U.S. player Jesse Bray and Facundo Obregon, Geronimo Obregon, and Justin Klentner, against defending champion Restoration Hardware, with Ben Soleimani, his coach, Santi Von Wernich, Jason Crowder, and Matt Coppola. At halftime, Klentner had an 8-2 lead, and it kept a comfortable margin throughout the second half, going on to win 14-7.
In the day’s earlier matches, Farmers & Merchants Bank beat Sol de Agosto 11-10 in overtime play and Lucchese won 16-7 in its match against Santa Clara.
The five-foot-high silver-and-gold PCO cup, on display in the clubhouse, is stunning. Crowned with an eagle supporting a globe and adorned with semiprecious stones, the trophy is mounted on a redwood base with side panels depicting lively polo scenes.
As often is the case with polo in Santa Barbara, the party began before the match, with sponsors and members mingling in the clubhouse while others had their own parties in their boxes or in the cabanas adjacent to the grandstands. Still others chose the new picnicking option, pulling their vehicles up to the far side of the field with their own chairs, comestibles, and libations.
At halftime the party moved to the field, where fans enjoyed partaking in the traditional stomping of the divots while mingling on the wide expanse of the field. After the match, the popular Polo After Hours party began, with DJ Fab cranking the tunes and guests dancing away.
The Pacific Coast Open continues with matches today and Sunday August 20, semifinals on Thursday August 24, and the finals on Sunday, August 27. The day of the finals will also be Ladies Hat Day, with fabulous prizes being awarded.
While the PCO marks the end of the high-goal season, exciting play continues with the USPA National Youth Tournament Series Championship on September 3, the Ramsey Asphalt USPA Presidents Cup on September 10 and 17, the USPA Wickenden Cup on September 24 and October 1, and the Last Chance Tournament on October 8. Get tickets early; the last 11 matches have sold out.
The Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club offers three high-goal fields, a polo school, boarding facilities, and polo lessons, along with eight tennis courts, a swimming pool, and a fitness facility. New this season is Happy Hour at the Polo Club, which was taking place every Friday and moved to Thursdays from 4-6 p.m. during the PCO. It features small bites and a full bar. For more information about the club, go to sbpolo.com.
For more information about the Pacific Coast Open, go to uspolo.org.
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By Gail Arnold