Jul 18, 2016 8:08 PM

Craig Sakin Memorial

CARBONDALE, Colo., July 18, 2016 -- Travieso is making a name for itself at Aspen Valley Polo Club. Following the winning tradition it started at Grand Champions Polo Club in Wellington, Fla., Travieso has won the most tournaments in this summer's polo season in Aspen

Sally Sakin presents Melissa Ganzi with MVP plaque

The foursome of father-and-son Teo and Tony Calle, Lucas Lalor and Carlitos Gracida defeated La Karina, 10-8, to defend its title in the Craig Sakin Memorial and win back-to-back tournaments. Last week Travieso won the ChukkerTV Challenge Cup.

Melissa Ganzi of La Karina, playing well above her handicap, was named Most Valuable Player.

Ganzi scored on a long angle shot in the third chukker to give her team a 5-4 lead and again in the fifth chukker. Despite getting hit in the back with a ball, Ganzi scored her second goal for an 8-7 lead.

"Sorpresa," a Chestnut mare owned and ridden by Tony Calle in the fourth chukker, was named Best Playing Pony.

Calle, 21, a junior at Lynn University, played one of his best games of his young career, defending Argentine 9-goaler Sebastian Merlos. He scored three goals and turned back two La Karina goals.

Sebastian Merlos of La Karina keeps his eye on the ball

"It's not easy marking Sebe," Calle said. "You always try the best you can. It's hard to outsmart a guy like him. I knew it was going to be tough.

"I knew I was well-mounted. I just had to anticipate, be patient and not make any mistakes and wait for everyone to do their job."

La Karina (Melissa Ganzi, Brian Boyd, Sebastian Merlos, Marc Ganzi) kept it close until the sixth chukker. Gracida converted a penalty-two to open the chukker for a 9-8 lead. Lalor scored an insurance goal on a breakaway with 33 seconds left to finish with a game-high five goals.

Travieso's Teo Calle talking strategy with his team

"I had my best horse in the sixth chukker," Calle said. "After we tied it up and scored another goal to take the lead, we knew we needed to remain cool, not make any stupid mistakes and run the clock down.

"We have a good organized team with everybody doing their job and marking the man. We are trying to keep as professional as we can. We know the summer is more relaxing but we still take it very seriously. We want to keep up the reputation we had in Florida. Everybody wants to try to beat a Travieso team. We don't take that personally, it's fun polo. That's the whole point, having fun."

Travieso's Lucas Lalor runs down the ball

Making it even more fun was playing with his father.

"It's always fun playing on the same team with him, we have a blast together," Calle said. "He had a great game. He was on point and did some good marking."

The third annual tournament is named in honor of Craig Sakin, who passed away on Feb. 11, 2014 at age 52. Sakin, former president of the Homeowners' Association of Sopris Mountain Ranch, was instrumental in helping Marc and Melissa Ganzi secure their first polo field. The trophy has remained in the Sakin home.

Craig Sakin Memorial awards table

His widow Sally presented the tournament awards and trophy along with special caps for players and some of her husband's favorite cowboy hats to Melissa and Marc Ganzi, who introduced Sakin to polo. "He came to love polo," Sakin said.

In the Craig Sakin Memorial subsidiary game, Tonkawa (Jeff Hildebrand, Jimmy Seward, Justo Saavedra, Stewart Armstrong) defeated Casablanca, 8-6, (Lauren Sherry, Grant Ganzi, Julio Novillo Astrada, Juancito Bollini).

MVP Melissa Ganzi reaches for the ball

Hildebrand broke a 6-6 tie with 2:36 left in he game. Armstrong added an insurance goal in the final minute. Saavedra led scoring with four goals and was named MVP.

Talking strategy before the Kids Foot Mallet Exhibition

In between games, fans enjoyed watching a another spirited Kids Foot Mallet Exhibition between Polo School Purple (Emmett Tamplin, Lucy Ramirez, Santos Merlos) and Polo School Blue (Lorenzo Ramirez, Abel Tamplin, Solon Tamplin, Nikko Ramirez). The game ended in a 4-4 tie.

Best Playing Pony "Sorpresa"

The Craig Sakin Memorial was the third of nine summer tournaments at Aspen Valley.

Travieso (Brian Boyd, Sebastian Merlos, Teo Calle, Alex Gooding) won the ChukkerTV Challenge Cup with a 13-9 win over Tonkawa. Flexjet (Melissa Ganzi/Secundo Merlos, Sebastian Merlos, Carlitos Gracida) captured the season-opening Independence Cup with a 6-4 in over La Karina in the club's arena because of bad weather.

Craig Sakin Memorial team finalists Travieso and La Karina with awards presenter Sally Sakin


July 21-24, Basalt Handicap

July 27-31, Emma Challenge

Aug. 3-7, Louis Vuitton Cup

Aug. 10, ChukkerTV Arena Challenge

Aug. 12-14, Mount Sopris Cup

Aug. 10-21, Rocky Mountain Open

CLUB ADDRESS: 3275 County Road 100, Carbondale, Colo. 81623

POLO HOTLINE: 970-710-1663


The exclusive Aspen Valley Polo Club is one of the nation's fastest-growing clubs. It offers grass and arena polo in the summer for players and spectators. The Polo School is available to adults and juniors. It offers individual and group lessons for all levels and ages. For spectators there are great field side views for tournament action and also the Aspen Valley Polo Club Boutique. Everyone is welcome to watch polo in a relaxed atmosphere. Admission, parking and refreshments are free. For Polo On Demand price rates of group and private lessons, arena chukkers, grass chukkers and individualized "Polo Experience" packages email or log

Chukker TV, leaders in polo broadcasting, is live streaming the entire summer schedule including the prestigious Louis Vuitton Cup and Rocky Mountain Cup.

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