Pacers and Polo ends Triple Crown but starts season

MICHAEL HOLAHAN/FILE
Biddle Realty team member John Eicher (left) battles for control of the ball against Burger King team member Barb Uskup during the eighth annual Pacers and Polo match on Saturday afternoon, April 2, 2011.
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 EDITOR'S NOTE: The third leg of the Aiken Triple Crown scheduled for Saturday, March 29, has been postponed because of rain in the forecast. The Pacers and Polo event will be held Sunday, March 30. This story has been edited to reflect the changes.

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Biddle Realty team member John Eicher takes a whack at the ball during the 2011 Pacers and Polo. The 2014 Triple Crown finale event is Sunday.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/FILE
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/FILE
Biddle Realty team member John Eicher takes a whack at the ball during the 2011 Pacers and Polo. The 2014 Triple Crown finale event is Sunday.

Pacers and Polo is the third leg of Aiken’s Triple Crown, and it’s set for Sunday afternoon at Powder House Field.

“The USC Aiken athletic department has been involved with the third leg of the Triple Crown for about 25 years,” said Athletic Director Randy Warrick. “We switched from harness racing to polo about 11 years ago.”

Gates open at 10:30 a.m., with the games beginning at 1 p.m. There will be six, seven-minute chukkers, a 20-minute intermission and an awards ceremony. In addition, there will be inflatables and other activities for children.

“This is more of a family event,” he said.

Tickets are $8 in advance, and $10 at the gate for adults and $5 for children. Advance tickets are available at All Star Tents and Events; Floyd & Green; USC Aiken Ad­vancement Office; USC Aiken Athletic Department; Security Federal Bank; Boots, Bridles & Britches; and H. Odell Weeks Activities Center.

Pacers and Polo is the last event of the Triple Crown, but it’s also a first.

“This does kick off the polo season,” said Warrick.

Starting in April, there will be plenty of polo as part of Aiken’s spring polo season.

“We will have people from all over coming here. Aiken is a good stopping point after the season in Florida,” said Kristen Galvan, the polo manager for the Aiken Polo Club, which partners with USC Aiken for the Pacers and Polo event.

The sport of kings has been played in Aiken since the city was established as a winter colony for the rich and famous in the late 19th century, and the Aiken Polo Club has a long tradition. The club played its first match in March 1882 at Aiken’s Whitney Field, located on Mead Avenue in the horse district.

The season runs from April 22 to June 8, with games held most Wednesdays through Sundays.

Featured matches are at 3 p.m. Sundays at Whitney Field. Admission is $25 for the social tent and parking, $20 per parking spot on the polo field and $5 general admission.

“This is a great sport to watch and a great family activity,” Galvan said.

Located in the heart of Aiken’s historic horse district, the field is surrounded by horses and barns of the Aiken Training Track on one side and beautiful historic homes on another, she said. The spot is a picturesque one for picnics and family outings.

Galvan said people ask her all the time whether they can bring picnics and chairs to the polo matches, and the answer is a resounding “yes.”

During the season, there are other events tied into the games.

“We have contests such as best hat and best costume,” she said.

Also, the menu at the fields will tie into a certain theme such as Soul Food Sunday.

Galvan said a list of events will be available online at aikenpoloclub.org and there is an information hotline at (803) 643-3611.

TRIPLE CROWN AND BEYOND

Gates open for Pacers & Polo at 10:30 a.m. Sunday at Powder House Field. The first chukker is at 1 p.m. For more on the polo season, see aikenpoloclub.org.


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