LAKEWOOD RANCH — A foursome of horses, all led by one rider, trot along the side of the road at The Sarasota Polo Club, where they are building up their exercise routine.
The sight has become a common one in recent weeks as polo players and their horses have made their way from all across the country to the private Lakewood Ranch community where they will be competing for the next four months.
“This is a time when we’ve got a lot going on,” said Anna Margalef, who manages a barn full of polo ponies from Illinois and is working to get the horses back in shape after the off-season. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to the (season starting).”
The season officially gallops into full swing Dec. 20 with The Polo Grill and Bar Cup at the club, 8201 Polo Club Lane. The facility opens at 11 a.m. for tailgating, and the polo match starts at 1 p.m. Matches are held at the same time every Sunday through April 11.
General admission for the public is $10 a person, but children ages 12 and under are free.
“It’s really become a community activity,” Polo Club Manager Maggie Mitchell said. “People love being out here with the tailgating and getting so close to the horses. Being so close to the action is the best part.”
Attendees can pack picnic lunches and spread out by the playing field or find a seat in the bleachers to watch the game.
“People even bring little grills out or put tents up,” Mitchell said. “It’s really an economical afternoon.”
During halftime, attendees are encouraged to participate in the divot stomp, during which spectators walk onto the field to find clumps of grass that have been unearthed and then stomp those pieces back into the ground.
At that time, families also can catch a ride on a wagon drawn by Clydesdale horses.
After the match ends, the winning team will receive its trophy, and spectators even have a chance to meet the players, Mitchell said.
Dogs are welcome but must be kept on a leash.
The Polo Grill and Bar, sponsor of the first match, will hold an after party from 5-9 p.m., at the restaurant, 10670 Boardwalk Loop, Lakewood Ranch. A ticket stub from the day’s match will get attendees drink specials, hors d’oeuvres, a chance to met polo players and professionals and door prizes, among other activities.
For more information about the Sarasota Polo Club, visit www.sarasotapolo.com.
Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].
The Polo Grill and Bar Cup
WHEN: 1 p.m., Dec. 20; Tailgating starts at 11 a.m.
WHERE: Sarasota Polo Club, 8201 Polo Lane
COST: $10 for general admission; Children 12 & under are free
INFORMATION: Dogs are welcome but must be kept on a leash.
20: Polo Grill & Bar Cup
27: Cutting Loose Salon Cup
3: Lakewood Ranch Elks Cup
10: Bright House Networks Cup; Tailgate theme: Winter fiesta
17: Suncoaast Porsche Cup
24: Woof Gang Bakery Cup; Tailgate theme: “Souper” Bowl Party
7: MGA Insurance Group Super Bowl Cup
14: Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance Cup; Tailgate theme: Hearts & Chocolate
21: SRQ Magazine Cup; Tailgate theme: Mardi Gras Madness
28: Gulf Coast League Finals
7: Waynbe Brown Tournament
14: The Ritz-Carlton Members Club; Waune Brown Tournament Finals; Tailgate theme: Shamrocks & Leprechauns
21: MGA Insurance Group; USPA National Inter-Circuit Finals
28: Lakewood Ranch Herald; Robert A. Uihlein Jr. Memorial Finals
5: Genesis Group; USPA Regional Classic-SE Finals
11: Mercedes-Benz of Sarasota; Ringling Cup Finals: Tailgate theme: Tropical delights