Oak Brook Polo Club hosted its final match of the 2018 Seasonon Sunday, September 23rd with the 40th Anniversary U.S. Open Polo Championship® Alumni Match. The 16-goal match between Abercrombie & Kent and Tulsa polo teams was part of theUnited States Polo Association Board of Governors and Annual Member Meetings that took place from September 19-22 in Oak Brook, Illinois. The event marked 40 years since the last U.S. Open Polo Championship® was held in 1978 between the twoteams.
Hundreds of spectators were in attendance to celebrate a successful end to Oak Brook’s 2018 summer season and to welcome some of polo’s legendary former and current professional polo playersin the United States, including eight-time U.S. Open Polo Championship® winner, Mike Azzaro.
The afternoon’s festivities began with an on-field rally and showcase of vintage Ford Model T cars driven by members of the Model T Club of America. The vehicles also took part in the openingparade featuring anthem singer Erika Barrett, followed by the Culver Academies Mounted Color Guard and Abercrombie & Kent and Tulsa polo teams.
Oak Brook Polo Club was home to U.S. Open Polo Championship® for over two decades from 1954 to 1978, making it the home of elite professional polo in the United States. In those 22 years, theOak Brook Polo Club won six U.S. Opens (1960, ’64, ’65, ’67, ’71 and ’73). The 1978 U.S. Open Polo Championship® final last played in Oak Brook was between Abercrombie & Kent and Tulsa with Abercrombie & Kent defeating Tulsa 7-6.
Abercrombie & Kent team featured players Joe Muldoon (Hcap 2), Delmer Walton (Hcap-3), Carlucho Arrellano (Hcap-5) and Martin Ravina (Hcap-6). The Tulsa team included Joel Baker (Hcap-1),Mike Azzaro (Hcap-6), Martin Estrada (Hcap-4) and Luis Escobar (Hcap-5). Brad Biddle and Jack Murphy served as officiating umpires and Rob Wilkinson as announcer.
After the traditional ball roll-in was performed, the first chukker got off to a quick start with Walton scoring first for Abercrombie & Kent followed by Azzaro who put up two goals for Tulsato take the lead 2-1. Muldoon of Abercrombie & Kent would answer back to tie the match and end the first chukker 2-2. The second chukker was on at a quick pace with Azzaro putting up two goals and holding Abercrombie & Kent scoreless to end the first half4-2.
After an entertaining and festive divot stomp, the third chukker got a quick jump start from a goal from Abercrombie & Kent’s Ravina, but Azzaro answered right back to keep Tulsa’s 2-goal lead. Walton would eventually close that gap to one with an additional goal to end the chukker 5-4. In the fourth and final chukker, Ravina would score to tie the match 5-5, but Tulsa’s Estrada would score to reclaim the lead 6-5. In the final few minutes, Abercrombie& Kent would score twice by Arellano and Walton to end the match and win 6-7.
Michael Butler presentedThe Butler Handicap Trophy to the Abercrombie & Kent polo team. Barrington Saddlery awarded “Best Playing Pony” to “Pac-Man” ridden by Carlucho Arellano (owned by John Greene) and MVP went to Del Walton of Abercrombie & Kent. Village of Oak Brook Trustee Edward Tiesenga thanked the USPA on behalf of the Village.
2018 marked Oak Brook Polo Club's 96th season as one of the nation's oldest polo clubs in operation today and fourth oldest sports property in Chicago. Once considered the “polo capital” ofthe world Oak Brook was the destination for American Polo players and enthusiasts. For general information, event scheduling, and parking directions, please call 630.368.5095 or visit.
Photos by Time Stops Photography: