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PTF’s Sunset Cup, Buzz Welker Memorial On Tap Monday At Santa Rita

WELLINGTON, March 16, 2024---The Polo Training Foundation's Florida Junior Polo winter circuit continues Monday with the second annual Sunset Polo Cup and Buzz Welker Memorial.


By Sharon Robb

Photos by Candace Ferreira


The tournament, started in 2012, was named in honor of Buzz Welker, a former polo player who shared his love for the game with everyone.



Before his life ended, Welker played in 16 countries and played with several celebrities including Prince Charles, the Sultan of Brunei and actor Tommy Lee Jones. Welker died in 2006 at age 69. He was the founder and leader of the Franklin Polo Association and headed major polo clubs in Texas, Florida and Dominican Republic.


In this year's PTF season-opening two tournaments, AJT Polo won the  Tackeria Cup. AJT Polo (Naomi Marlough, Geronimo Rider, Joseph Schwartz, Aspen Tinto) defeated Power Group Total Care (Daniel Arnold, Ramon Caro, Valentina Tarazona, Molly White), 3-1, in the final. Schwartz, 19, a freshman at University of Kentucky, scored all five of his team's goals and was named Most Valuable Player. White was given the Sportsmanship Award.



In the Major Collin Memorial, Red Barn (PJ DeAngelis, Florencio Merlos, Charlotte Peponis, Emma Weinzierl) defeated Port Mayaca (Tomas Caro, James Peponis, Maddie Ulery, Antonio Villamil), 4-2. Merlos swept Most Valuable Player and Best Playing Pony honors. The Sportsmanship Award went to Caro.


Four teams will compete in the Sunset Polo Cup at 10 a.m. on Field 1. They are:

AJT Polo: Artemio Figueras, Harrison Reicher, Sailor Schwaber, Aspen Tinto.

GJ Racing: Max Scott Barnes, Sebastian Mandelbaum, Ava Nunes, Joseph Schwartz.

Power Group: Lazaro Gorosito, Lilli Hagemeier, Valentina Tarazona, Joaquin Vilgre la Madrid.

Mayer Ranch: Ramon Caro, Ava Rose Hinkson, Milo MacDonough, Amelia Massey.




Two teams will compete in the Buzz Welker Memorial also at 10 a.m. on Field 2. They are:

Prestonwood Polo Club: Silver Novillo Astrada, Celestino Merlos, Benjamin Obregon, Inaki Wulff.

CTV Sports: Cruz Bilbao, Tomas Caro, Santos Teves, Maddie Ulery.


Valentina Tarazona, a product of the PTF and Santa Rita-based Polo School Women's Polo League, is still basking in the glow as a member of this year's winning U.S. Open Women's Polo Championship team Buena Vibra with teammates Milly Hine, Clara Seppe and Cory Williams.


At 13, the 1-goaler Tarazona is the youngest player to win the U.S. Open, a six-year record previously held by 10-goaler Hope Arellano, who won her first U.S. Open at 14.



"It was amazing, I was so overjoyed and so happy to be there, I couldn't believe it," Tarazona said. "It means a lot to me to be the youngest player.


"When I was little, I looked up to Hope. Her being 14 and playing was incredible to me. She has been a big inspiration. I dreamed about playing the Open since I was a little girl. It was the best experience ever."


In last year's inaugural Sunset Cup, GJ Racing (Ava Nunes, Ramon Caro, Joaquin Vilgre de Madrid, Hardy Pemberton) won the round robin. Ava Rose Hinkson, 19, of Power Group Total Care, scored four goals, including two penalty conversions in two games, and was Most Valuable Player. Vilgre De Madrid earned the Sportsmanship Player award.



In the 2023 Buzz Welker Memorial, three well-balanced teams battled for the title. Grand Champions (Sailor Schwaber, Sami Kettaneh, Connor O'Leary, Fran Spinacci) emerged victorious on net goals. Fran Spinacci, who scored three goals, was Most Valuable Player. Santos Teves earned the Sportsmanship Award.


The event sponsors are: Grand Champions Polo Club, Santa Rita Polo Farm, AJT Polo, World Polo League, CTV Sports, Prestonwood Polo Club, Everglades Polo, Port Mayaca Polo Club, GJ Racing, Mayer Ranch, The Tackeria Complete Equestrian Shop and Red Barn Feed & Supply.

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