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Casablanca Wins Craig Sakin Memorial in Overtime; Torito Ruiz Named MVP

By: Rebecca Baldridge
Photos by: Nick Tininenko for ChukkerTV 

Carbondale, CO, July 19, 2021— Casablanca defeated Victory Polo by 9-8 in overtime to claim the Craig Sakin Memorial title; Santa Rita was victorious in the Alpine Antler Cup, beating both Piocho Ranch and Rancho Los Amigos, while Mountain Chevrolet bested La Karina in the Just for the Love of It Cup.

In the final match of the Craig Sakin Memorial, Casablanca (Lauren Sherry, Alex Gooding, Torito Ruiz, and Grant Ganzi) met Victory Polo (Kevin Schmeits, Marc Ganzi, Nic Roldan, and Stewart Armstrong).

The match started with a foul only 30 seconds in giving Casablanca a Penalty 4. Unfortunately for the team in black, the shot was blocked. Less than a minute later, Victory Polo’s Nic Roldan sent a perfect pass to Stewart Armstrong, who put the first goal on the board. Casablanca’s Grant Ganzi scored on a Penalty 3, and the chukker ended 1-1.

Barely a minute into the second chukker, Kevin Schmeits found the goal, but at 4:28 Torito Ruiz answered by taking possession of the ball and smashing it downfield. It hit the ground just a few feet short of the posts and went through on the bounce to tie the score at 2 all. With just under a minute left, Roldan got the ball less than 20 yards from the goal and put Victory Polo ahead 3-2 at the end of the chukker. However, the excitement didn’t last for Victory as Casablanca kept them off the board in the thirdperiod. Ruiz evened the score, and a successful Penalty 2 from Grant Ganzi ended the half with Casablanca leading 4-3.

Victory Polo got their own back at the start of the second half, keeping Casablanca away from the uprights. Armstrong scored two consecutive goals to put Victory Polo back in the lead at 5-4. Just 30 seconds into the pentultimate chukker, Kevin Schmeits gave Marc Ganzi the perfect set-up to tap the ball through and extend Victory Polo’s lead to 6-4. With 3:34 on the clock, Ruiz took the score to 6-5 and at 1:15 he took advantage of a broken play to tie things up at 6-6. Ruiz started the final chukker with yet another goal, putting Casablanca back in the lead at 7-6. A Penalty 1 gave Victory Polo an automatic goal, once again tying the score up at 7-7. With 1:55 on the clock, Armstrong broke the tie after a successful run downfield with Ruiz in hot pursuit.

With five seconds remaining on the clock, Victory Polo surely though they had the match in the bag when the whistle sounded for a right-of-way violation. Grant Ganzi scored on the Penalty 2 to end the chukker 8-8 and send the match into overtime. Forty seconds into overtime, Ruiz took possession of the ball and slammed it downfield in a long shot that flew over the posts and gave Casablanca the win at 9-8. Toro Ruiz was named the Most Valuable Player while Pili, whom he played in the fifth chukker, took Best Playing Pony Honors.

In the Just for the Love of It subsidiary, La Karina (Govinda Quish, Brian Boyd, Sugar Erskine, and Nacho Badiola) took on Mountain Chevrolet (Michael Payne, Gussie Busch, Tomas Pieres, and Pablo Spinacci).


Mountain Chevrolet seized control at the start of the match. Gussie Busch and Tomas Pieres both scored, and the team succeeded in keeping La Karina off the board. In the second chukker, Pieres took the score up to 3-0. The team in pink got their first goal of the day when Sugar Erskine put the ball through on a Penalty 4. The period ended 3-1 with Mountain Chevrolet in the lead. Pieres extended his team’s lead to 4-1 before Nacho Badiola scored to cut Mountain Chevrolet’s advantage to 2 and end the period 4- 2.

La Karina found their feet in the fourth chukker and played a strong defense to keep Mountain Chevrolet off the board. Erskine and Govinda Quish each scored to end the period with a 4-4 tie. Pieres put the first goal on the board in the pentultimate chukker, but Nacho Badiola found the posts to tie the game once again at 5-5. Pablo Spinacci put an end to this by scoring two consecutive goals to end the period with Mountain Chevrolet ahead 7-5. Another goal from Quish saw La Karina gaining ground, but Michael Payne scored to keep his team in the lead by two goals. Spinacci took the ball in to rack up the final goal of the day, and Mountain Chevrolet defeated La Karina by 9- 6. Pablo Spinacci was named the Most Valuable Player.

Earlier in the day, Rancho Los Amigos (Paul Foster, Larry Austin, Gonzalito Pieres, and Horacio Heguy), Piocho Ranch (Carolyn Likas, Nacho Figueras, Nacho Novillo Astrada, and Tom Barrack), and Santa Rita (Alejandra Foster, Melissa Ganzi, Alejandro Novillo Astrada and Juan Bollini) met in the finals of the round robin Alpine Antler Cup. Scores were carried over from the previous matches.

In the first game, Rancho Los Amigos met Piocho Ranch, each team starting with one goal on the board. Piocho won 5-4, with Nacho Figueras and Nacho Novillo Astrada each scoring two goals.

The second match saw Rancho Los Amigos go up against Santa Rita. Los Amigos started with two on the board, while Santa Rita had four. Each team scored three goals to leave Santa Rita in the lead at 7-5. Melisa Ganzi was the top scoring player with two goals to her credit.

In the third match, Santa Rita stayed on the field to face off against Piocho. The score at the start was 5-4, with Piocho in the lead. Nacho Novillo Astrada scored for Piocho, while Ganzi and Alejandro Novillo Astranda each put the ball through to end the match in a 6-6 tie. Santa Rita won the Alpine Antler Cup with a total score of +2, while Piocho took second place with +1 and Rancho Los Amigos took third with -3.


2021 Aspen Valley Summer Polo Series

Basalt Handicap 7/21-7/25
Emma Challenge Cup 7/28-8/1

High Alpine Cup 8/4-8/8
Rocky Mountain Open 8/1-8/14
Mount Sopris Cup 8/11-8/15
The Carbondale Classic 8/18-8/22
World Polo League Triple Crown of Polo 8/25-8/28

Arena Tournaments & Asado – Tuesday Evenings
Kidz Uni-Wheel games during select tournament halftimes

Chukkers, Champagne, & Caviar
to benefit Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation
Sunday August 22, 2021

Visit for more details. Games live-streamed on

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