The Philly Urban Park Polo, a rarity for the sport

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Days before the Classic starts, it sells out, from $25 general admission to $500 VIP passes. Disappointed people asking for tickets are turned away. Rosser said at least one person broke down in tears.

“They have major FOMO [fear of missing out] because they didn’t get their tickets soon enough,” he said. “I imagine this event will become a multi-day event at some point. I think people are going to really like what we’re doing on Saturday.

These attendees will have the chance to see one of the main characters from “Crossing the Line”: Cholo, a dark bay Thoroughbred that Rosser trained to play polo. Rosser credits Cholo for giving him responsibility and structure as a teenager.

Today, nearly 20-year-old Cholo no longer plays polo, but instead offers short walks to children.

“He’s not in the race car business anymore,” said Lezlie Hiner, founder of Work to Ride. “He’s just chilling, taking a walk.”

Work to Ride founder Lezlie Hiner hugs Cholo, the horse featured prominently in Kareem Rosser’s book about his experience with the polo training program, “Crossing the Line: A Fearless Team of Brothers and the Sport that Changed their Lives Forever”. (Emma Lee/WHY)

There are 36 horses cared for at the Ecuries de Chamounix, six of which will be playing polo this weekend. Hiner showed off one of his favorites, a 16-year-old former thoroughbred racehorse named Edwin.

The horse has several names: Easy Eddie. Eddie Spaghetti.

Lezlie Hiner. founder and executive director of Work to Ride at Écuries de Chamounix, watches over Edwin, a polo pony she affectionately calls Eddie Spaghetti. (Emma Lee/WHY)

“Ed is primarily a polo pony, but he’s also quite good at show jumping,” Hiner said, stroking Edwin’s nose. “He did quite a few of those shows. He is also hunted by the fox. He is one of those multidisciplinary guys that we use for more than one activity.

Hiner shows off another horse that will be performing this weekend, Cumbia, named after traditional Colombian dance music.

“That’s what she does. His feet are still moving,” she said. “She lives up to her name.”

Other horses arrive from out of town, some from as far away as Colorado, to complete the list of 22 animals.

The polo match is a fundraising event for Work To Ride, which is planning a major development at the stables: a 35,000 square foot semi-enclosed riding arena for training and events. Hiner says the $10 million fundraising campaign is over 80% complete. She hopes to innovate next year.

Hiner says proceeds from the polo event will not go towards construction costs, but rather towards the cost of operating the facility. She expected her budget to grow as her facility grew.

Lezlie Hiner. Founder and General Manager of the Work to Ride program at Écuries Chamounix. (Emma Lee/WHY)

“Once the arena is built, we will need a serious increase in our operating income,” she said. “That’s the primary goal. Another is that we’re so super, super excited to expose the wider community in Philadelphia to polo. You have colored children playing. They will be 80% of the players on the field on Saturday. It’s an anomaly.

This year’s event is capped at 3,000 tickets, but the ground could accommodate more. Hiner, who has personally fielded phone calls from disappointed people unable to get tickets, plans to gradually expand the event’s reach in the future in response to demand.

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