Polo Players Edition

JAN 2019

Polo Players' Edition is the official publication of the U.S. Polo Association. Dedicated to the sport of polo, it features player profiles, game strategy, horse care, playing tips, polo club news and tournament results.

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34 POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N me not to go buy a nice car [with my earnings], but instead buy a horse. I try to save a little bit of money for me, but most of the time I put my money back into my horses. I am at a point that I don't have kids, I don't have a lot of expenses so I try to grow as an individual and invest in myself, because I believe in it." Carlitos and his brother are a team when it comes to their horses. They have about 30 horses between them, some made, some in training. They purchase green horses, most of which are sent to Mexico to be started by the same guy who used to train the best horses for their dad. After the initial training, the young horses come back to the states to be finished by the brothers. Some of the horses are sold, while they will keep others. Some of the horses they have sold have gone to players like Cambiaso, Facundo and Tim Dutta. "It's hard to sell them. I am very picky. If it is one of my good ones, it is expensive and I want to make sure they are going to a good home." Carlitos said. "I have to be sure it is going to be taken care of and if it is going from me to them, it has to be a better situation for the horse." While some horse sellers take pride in seeing a great player play one of their horses, Carlitos isn't necessarily one of them. "For me, the pride is in scoring a goal on Cambiaso, not having him score the goal," said Carlitos. "It is satisfying for the horse's career [to be played by good players]. I see [the horses] as individuals, so it is satisfying to see they made it to the top. Last year, Juan Martin Nero played a great mare of ours in the World Cup and the U.S. Open. It was nice because I sold her to Cambiaso as a 5- year-old." The brothers like to keep their horse operation relatively small, choosing quality over quantity. "I am very picky about the horses I own, and I know what standard I want my name attached to," he said. They also have a few of their father's good playing horses that still play. "For me, they are the bar. They are the quality I am continuing to pursue. With the couple of mares my dad made, I am like, OK, this is what a good horse is like. This is what a good horse should feel like, this is what it should play like, what it should look like." Carlitos has some frozen embryos from some of his dad's good horses he may eventually use, but as he points out, breeding is expensive and you have a lot of money in the babies before they are old enough to play. One of Carlitos' most memorable games was the final of the $100,000 World Cup last April. "I won with Tommy Collingwood who is like my brother. ... We weren't part of an organization. We put it all together. When we needed to practice, we would call everyone and ask, where can we practice. It was all because of our efforts. Nothing was given to us. We did it on our own. We mounted ourselves. We weren't getting paid and we were playing our own horses so that is always a big risk. I was investing my time and money for that month to win that tournament. "It was huge and very important to me because it was the first high-goal tournament I've won. And the first high- goal tournament I scored the winning goal for." Carlitos and Collingwood teamed up with Juan Monteverde and Peco Polledo. They defeated Grand Champions' Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Juan Martin Nero and Alejandro Novillo Astrada, 10-9. With the game tied and just over a minute left, Carlitos, riding his brother's horse, slipped past Nero and crushed a neckshot through the air dead center through the posts. "I always say my horse scored the goal because she blew past Juan Martin [Nero] and he is the best defender in the world, so for me, that is the satisfaction I get from my work," he said. "[Playing against top players] lets me know where I am as a professional. When you play against Juan Martin, you know what level your horses are at, what level your game is at and I think we showed him our level is good and our horses are good." Carlitos and his brother have also been building their Gracida Legacy lifestyle brand, something their father started shortly before his death. "I wanted to do it because it was something [my dad] was pursuing ... something he saw potential in and he wanted to put a lot into. I would like to finish it really well," explained Carlitos. Most recently, the brothers created a wine brand honoring their father. The Gracida Legacy website says, "The wine carries on [Carlos Gracida's] legacy by coupling the most prestigious sport in the world with an age-old tradition of celebration through wine enthusiasm. The wine, produced in Spain, is sold in three varieties: Gran Reserva (a Tempranillo Cabernet blend), Chardonnay and Rosé. It is distributed regionally in several states including Mariano, Carlos and Carlitos Gracida with Carlos' mother at his Hall of Fame induction in 2012. He died two years later. ALEX PACHECO

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