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Polo People

September 11, 1987|BETTIJANE LEVINE

Polo, the next boom sport in Los Angeles, gives new meaning to the words Saturday Night Live. Opening game of the American Polo League season last week saw such diverse sorts as Ed Asner, Bruce Boxleitner, Dr. Toni Grant, Rue McClanahan, Juice Newton and Elizabeth Montgomery in the 4,000-seat Equidome at the Los Angeles Equestrian and Polo Center in Burbank, built to house the equestrian events of the 1984 Olympics.

No longer just an elitist game for royals and other upper-crust types, the arena version is more exciting for spectators. Played in a football-size field, viewers sit so close to the action they can feel the whoosh as mallet-wielding players hurtle toward each other on thousand-pound steeds, bumping, slashing and dueling for possession of the ball. It is a civilized war game, right down to the costume rules. Players wear white breeches, leather riding gloves and Western (or English) riding boots. Even the horses have a dress code: Tails must be braided, manes clipped short and saddle blankets worn at all times.

Of course, there is no what-to-wear guide for spectators, unless they happen to study certain old Ralph Lauren ads. And so on Saturday night, the fans dressed in everything from fancy furs and gowns to tattered jeans with tweed jackets.

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