By: Rebecca Baldridge
Photos by: Candace Ferreira for ChukkerTV
WELLINGTON, FL, June 2, 2021— Seminole Casino Coconut Creek won the first ever World Polo League Polo Pride tournament at Grand Champions Polo Club on Saturday, May 29th. They defeated Grand Champions by 5-6 in a closely fought match.
Grand Champions Polo Club kickstarted Pride month, which runs through the end of June, by hosting a spectacular dinner and polo match to promote the values of equality and diversity and celebrate the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community (LGBTQ).
Josh Cohen, Marc Ganzi, Sidra Smith, Violet Camacho, Dani Campbell, and Omar Hernandez.
The Pride events began Friday evening with a dinner staged at Santa Rita Polo Farm. Following delicacies including a crispy skin duck breast, yellowfin tuna tart and Colorado lamb chops, each paired with a carefully curated wine selection, guests enjoyed a panel discussion titled „Inclusion and Healing“ moderated by ESPN West Palm broadcaster and personality Josh Cohen.
Grand Champions Polo Club members with Melissa Ganzi and acrobat performers.
Panel participants included: Violet Camacho, author and PR & Communications Director for Mr. Hospitality; Dani Campbell, a firefighter/paramedic for BSO Fire Rescue and reality TV personality; Marc Ganzi, CEO, Digital Colony, President & CEO of Colony Capital, and co-founder of the World Polo League; Omar Hernandez, founder of Omar’s La Boite, Omar’s at Vauvluse and the Saxony at Faena Miami Beach; and Sidra Smith, producer and founder of Gate Pass Entertainment.
After a lively discussion in which participants discussed the topics of inclusion and healing within the context of their personal experiences, guests were treated to an acrobatic performance by Les Farfadais & Co and music from the Telesca Band.
Les Farfadais & Company acrobat performers gave a thrilling show in the Santa Rita barn.
On Saturday afternoon, teams from Grand Champions and Seminole Casino Coconut Creek met on Grand Champions Field Two for a very competitive match.
Vinny Sangaline chases Louis Aguierre down the field.
The Grand Champion’s team included: Miami broadcaster Louis Aguirre; Gay Polo League tournament winner Ryan Cronin; Talbot Logan; and 4-goal professional Jorge Donovan.
Sterling Jones reaches for the ball with opponents closely defending.
Playing for Seminole Casino Coconut Creek were Cale Newman, Grand Champions polo manager; actor Sterling Jones; Vinny Sangaline, and 4-goal professional and Grand Champion’s Director of Polo Operations Juan Bollini.
Seminole Casino Coconut Creek and Grand Champions teammates with actress Rebel Wilson.
Just over two minutes into the first chukker, Talbot Logan drew first blood for Grand Champions, keeping his composure and evading a hook from Juan Bollini to score. It took another two minutes before Sterling Jones got the equalizer for Seminole Casino, while Vinny Sangaline came in with a neck shot in the last minute to put Seminole Casino ahead by 2-1. In the second chukker, Ryan Cronin got out in front to slice the ball in with 4:36 on the clock, tying things up until Vinny Sangaline put the ball through with only 32 seconds remaining to play. The half ended with Seminole Casino leading by 3-2.
MVP Vinny Sangaline and Rebel Wilson.
Grand Champions came back hot after the half, as Ryan Cronin smashed a cut shot down field to the center and finished with a smooth shot on goal. Talbot Logan took the ball out from under Sangaline to score, and Cronin quickly answered with another shot on goal. A goal from Sangaline with 1:28 left on the clock ended the chukker with Grand Champions in the lead by 5-4. Unfortunately for Grand Champions, Seminole Casino came back strong on defense in the final chukker and kept them off the board. With goals from Sangaline and Juan Bollini, Seminole Casino came from behind to edge out a 6-5 victory.
World Polo Pride Panelists Violet Camachi, and Dani Campbell with friends during the halftime divot stomp.
With four goals for the match, Vinny Sangaline took the MVP title, while Ryan Cronin was the high scoring player for Grand Champions with three goals to his credit. After the match, actress Rebel Wilson, a close friend of player/actor Sterling Jones, was on hand to award the prizes to the winner and runner-up.
Grand Champions Polo Club manager Cale Newman made history as the first transgender man to play polo.
Spirits were high on the podium, and Seminole Casino’s #1, Cale Newman, was beaming from ear to ear, saying “This is a fantastic end to the season, and I had a blast. I’m incredibly honored to be a part of World Polo Pride, not only as a member of the LGBTQ community but as a manager of the club. I would be honored to be part of this event playing or not.“
Sam Kennedy, Melissa Ganzi, Rebel Wilson, Marc Ganzi, and Griffen Bruehl.
Sponsors for the event included Seminole Creek Coconut Casino, Potions in Motion, Fernet Branca, Crystal Head Vodka, iLegal Mezcal, Republic National Distributing, Cucina Palm Beach, Mr. Hospitality Miami, and Renato’s Palm Beach.