Aspen Valley Polo Club, the nation’s fastest growing polo club, ended its’ most successful season in club history this past weekend.
Travieso won its’ second tournament of the summer polo season capturing the season-finale Carbondale Classic on Sunday with an 11-8 victory over Casablanca, the club’s winningest team this season.
Travieso (Mike Azzaro, Teo Calle, Tony Calle, Carlitos Gracida) took control of the game early and never trailed against Casablanca (Marc Ganzi, Grant Ganzi, Stewart Armstrong, Juancito Bollini) to win the five-team, two-day tournament.
Gracida was named Most Valuable Player for the game and Lucas Lalor, a member of three winning teams this season and one of the most consistent players, was selected Most Valuable Player for the eight-week season.
Adventura, purchased from Pablo Spinacci and ridden by Marc Ganzi, was Best Playing Pony.
Casablanca was forced to play catch-up for the entire game. Travieso jumped out to a 3-0 lead with penalty conversions from Teo Calle and Gracida, and goal from the field by Tony Calle.
Travieso took advantage of Casablanca’s broken plays and missed scoring opportunities. Travieso led 4-2 after two chukkers and 7-4 at halftime.
After a 2-2 fourth chukker, Travieso shut out Casablanca, 2-0, in the fifth. Casablanca held Travieso scoreless, 2-0, in the final chukker but could not rally.
“I think they had a little tough luck and it was just our day,” said Tony Calle. “We could tell they were getting a little frustrated.
“Whenever we had the opportunity we took advantage of every broken play,” Calle said. “Whenever we had a break, Carlitos and I would turn around and go to goal. My dad scored an impressive goal and the horses went really well. Carlitos has been playing really well. He is an amazing back and great horseman and deserved MVP.”
Calle is now headed back to South Florida for senior classes at Lynn University and fall season at Grand Champions Polo Club. After working with Sebastian Merlos in Argentina, Calle got the chance to play with and against Mike Azzaro in Aspen.
“You don’t get to play with a player like that every day,” Calle said. “Every time you get advice from him you keep your ears open. He is a very unselfish player and not afraid of doing the dirty work. He is a team player and makes every team he plays with better.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better summer,” Calle said. “I came here from Argentina not knowing what to expect. I made it to every final I could, winning three out of four.”
Father and son Teo and Tony Calle each scored four goals for Travieso. Gracida added two goals and Azzaro had one. Grant Ganzi led Casablanca with three goals, Bollini and Marc Ganzi each had two goals and Armstrong added one.
Juancito Bollini, 21, and Grant Ganzi, 19, finished with five tournament victories as teammates. Casablanca finished with three tournament wins, the most of any team during the summer season.
Defending tournament champion Flexjet won the subsidiary with wins over Los Amigos (Alejandra Foster, Lucas Lalor, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, Paul Foster), 7-6, and Tonkawa/La Karina (Jeff Hildebrand, Jimmy Seward, Ignacio Novillo Astrada, Brian Boyd), 4-3.
Flexjet’s Melissa Ganzi led scoring with a club-record eight goals in six chukkers of play. Paul Foster, Alex Gooding and Juancito Bollini were tied for the club record with seven goals.
In the opening three-chukker game, Tonkawa/La Karina defeated Los Amigos, 4-3.
The second annual Carbondale Classic is named after the town of Carbondale, where Aspen Valley Polo Club is located. The picturesque town is located 170 miles west of Denver and 14 miles from Aspen in the heart of Colorado’s breathtaking central Rocky Mountains, resting in the shadow of the 12,953-foot Mount Sopris.
It was the most competitive polo season in club history attracting some of the world’s top pro and amateur players including brothers Alejandro and Nacho Novillo Astrada, Pablo Dorignac and legendary Hall of Famer and former 10-goaler Mike Azzaro.
This season’s ten tournament winners were:
La Karina (Carlitos Gracida, Mariano Gracida, Brian Boyd, Marc Ganzi), Independence Cup.
Tiburon (Collen Clark, Lauren Sherry, Pablo Dorignac, Lucas Lalor), ChukkerTV Challenge Cup.
Casablanca (MVPs Mariano Gracida, Grant Ganzi, Pablo Dorignac, Juancito Bollini), Basalt Handicap.
Casablanca (Santos Bollini, Grant Ganzi, Lucas Lalor, Juancito Bollini), Craig Sakin Memorial.
La Karina (Brian Boyd, Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Mike Azzaro), Emma Challenge.
Flexjet (Melissa Ganzi, Juan Bollini, Alejandro Novillo Astrada), United States Arena Handicap.
Aspen Valley Polo Club (Alejandro Poma, Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Lucas Lalor), High Alpine Cup.
Travieso (Teo Calle, Tony Calle, Nacho Novillo Astrada, Marc Ganzi), Mount Sopris Cup.
Casablanca (Grant Ganzi, Tony Calle, Juancito Bollini, Stewart Armstrong), Rocky Mountain Open.
Travieso (Mike Azzaro, Teo Calle, Tony Calle, Carlitos Gracida), Carbondale Classic.
Aspen Valley Polo Club also hosted the United States Arena Handicap, won by Flexjet; St. Regis Family Traditions Cup won by St. Regis White; USPA National Youth Tournament Series qualifier won by Sopris Mountain Ranch; and the successful Champagne, Caviar & Chukkers fundraiser during the Mount Sopris Cup that raised $366,000 for the Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation in front of a record crowd of more than 600.