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Rules of the Game for Pros in the American Polo League

December 05, 1987|DENISE ABBOTT

For a better understanding of the game:

The Los Angeles Equidome was specifically designed for arena polo. It's the official home of the American Polo League, and all of that league's polo matches are played there, with the Los Angeles Colts competing in every game. Most arenas throughout the country are made for basketball and hockey and are much too small for top-notch polo.

Twenty professional polo games are played at the Equidome by the six league teams during the spring and the fall seasons (10 each season). In addition, there are two championship games each year in which the leading teams compete for the prestigious Cadillac Cup. The league structure calls for the five visiting teams to play the L.A. Colts in the Equidome on a rotating basis four times a year, or twice each season. The Colts play all 20 league games in the Equidome.

Home-Field Advantage

To compensate for the home-field advantage during the regular season, the Colts award a handicap to the opposing team. Last Saturday, for instance, the Colts, with the players' combined goal rating of 25, played the New York Thoroughbreds, who had a rating of 20. Therefore, the Thoroughbreds were allowed to begin the match with five points. There is no handicap given in the championship games, therefore tonight's game will begin 0-0.

Winning teams that compete in each season's championship game are determined by a special point system kept during the regular season.

Maximum points for the season is 20. Visiting teams earn 10 points each time they beat the Colts; the Colts receive 2 points for each win. At season's end, the two teams with the most points compete for the Cadillac Cup. The Colts won their berth for tonight's championship game with 18 points, the Longhorns 10.

30 Exceptional Ponies

Players consider the horses (actually thoroughbreds or quarter horses) an important aspect of the game. The Equestrian Center maintains 30 exceptional ponies (owned by private investors) for use by the Colts as well as by their opponents. The visitors are allowed to practice with the ponies and then make their choices for the game.

Established only in 1984, the American Polo League is a prototype league still developing and making changes.

"Our goal," said Al Garcia, president of the American Polo League, "is to share the excitement of arena polo with the public and make it competitive with other sporting events."

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