By Sharon Robb
WELLINGTON, Fl., March 25, 2018---Smithfield is one victory away from a rematch with Patagones in the final of the Limited Edition 8-Goal Series at Grand Champions Polo Club.
With less than two minutes left in the game, Smithfield (Craig Callen, 0, Nachi Viana, 2, Santi Wulff, 5, John Klopp, 0) scored the winning goal to defeat Skaneateles (Marty Cregg, 0, Pipe Miguens, 2, Juan Martin Obregon, 5, Cesar Jimenez, 1), 8-7, in the featured Saturday Polo game.
Wulff was named Most Valuable Player. The 5-goaler scored a game-high four goals including the game-winner with 1:57 left in the game.
Smithfield (2-1) hopes to win back-to-back games when it plays Grand Champions/CrossFit El Cid (Carlitos Gracida, 4 Gerardo Pantin, -1, Jason Wates, 3, Cecilia Cochran, 1) (1-0) on Sunday at noon. Smithfield's only loss this month was to Patagones (2-0).
"If we win tomorrow (Sunday) we are in the finals and I will get to see my nephews again," Wulff said. "Hopefully, that will happen."
Smithfield took a quick 2-0 lead early in the opening chukker but Skaneateles worked its way back in the game to tie 2-2 on Jimenez' goal with 4:32 left in the second chukker. Two minutes later, Wulff scored to give Smithfield back the lead, 3-2.
Smithfield led for most of the game, including three times with a two-point cushion.
"We tried to dominate the middle of the field and it worked out," Wulff said. "We missed a few goals in the fifth to give them an advantage. They are a good team. They never gave up and never stopped pushing. That's why it ended up being close."
Skaneateles worked its way back again behind Obregon to trail by one, 7-6, in the fifth chukker. Miguens tied the game, 7-7, with 3:37 left in the game and looked to have the momentum before Smithfield won the throw-in and Wulff came up with his game-winning heroics.
"That was a lucky run," Wulff said. "That mare (Amelia) is one of my best horses and she can run a lot."
Viana aded two goals for Smithfield. The seven-goal team was also awarded a penalty-one and another goal on handicap.
Skaneateles got balanced scoring from Cregg, Obregon and Jimenez each with two goals. Miguens added one goal.
"We expected this close a game," Wulff said. "We knew it would be a close game all the way through. We don't look at their record (0-3). It's a good team. We were very even teams and we knew it would be a good game."
The American Polo Horse Association best registered horse of the game was Mirinda, played by Pipe Miguens.
The APHA was created in 2006 by the legendary Polo Hall of Famer Sunny Hale to recognize polo ponies in America and encourages events that showcase them and hard-working dedication of grooms.
The Grand Champions Polo Club Best Playing Pony for the game was Estrella, played by John Klopp.
A big Saturday of polo is in store for fans in this weekend's featured championship game the day before Easter. The Easter Bunny will host an Easter Egg Hunt and Kids' Face Painting. Fans will be treated to a catered affair, refreshments and custom-made cake in a fun, relaxed atmosphere. World-renown polo announcer Jan-Erik Franck will call the action.
Grand Champions Polo Club and Santa Rita Polo Farm is the largest and most unique private 100-acre polo facility in Wellington with 120 stalls in five self-contained barns, exercise track, five climate-controlled tack rooms, vet room, staff quarters, guest house and polo fields with state-of-the-art underground irrigation and stick-and-ball fields.
During fall, winter and spring seasons, Grand Champions Polo Club, the nation's largest club with 11 well-manicured fields, hosts polo tournaments ranging from six to 26-goal in addition to special events.
The club features monthly 6, 8 and 12-goal tournaments and women's weekly league play during the winter season in addition to two 16-20 tournaments, $50,000 National 12 Goal, $100,000 World Cup winner-take-all 0-40-goal tournament, WCT Tournament and USPA National President's Cup.
During the 2017 winter season Grand Champions attracted a record 72 teams and another 18 teams during the spring season.
Grand Champions caters to men, women and youth polo players at all levels. Its expert staff can customize a complete playing experience including horses, pros and certified umpires in addition to lessons and practice sessions as part of its' Polo On Demand program, the only polo club in the U.S. to offer the unique program.
The Club Hotline is 561-644-5050. It will be updated every day at 8 a.m. for both players and fans.