By Alex Webbe, Senior US Correspondent.
Polo and equestrian properties in Wellington, Florida continue to change hands, with several major changes taking place in the last couple of years. In the wake of the sale of the International Polo Club in Wellington, Florida, to horse show promoter Mark Bellissimo, concerns have arisen over the number of polo properties that seem to be disappearing.
Sympatico Polo Club, the property of the late Pedro Morrison was recently sold and both Tommy Lee’s San Saba Polo Club and Wayne Garrison’s Jan Pamela Polo Farm have also been up for sale. Marc and Melissa Ganzi have expanded their Grand Champions Polo Club operations with the purchase of Lyndon Lea’s Zacara Polo Farm at the Wellington Preserve, and have plans to add two more fields to the property.
Crab Orchard, the past domain of George and Beverly Rawlings was recently purchased by Frank McCourt, the former owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the polo fields at the Gulfstream Polo Club are now in the hands of a developer, but polo aficionados shouldn’t be too alarmed as Michael Bickford has plowed big money into the development of two fields in the Wellington Equestrian Preserve and Nigeria’s Sayyu Dantata has also secured a property in the neighborhood that he is equipping with both field and stables.
“The window is closing, for certain,” said Carlos R. Arellano founder and owner of Southfields Real Estate. “There’s only so much land in Wellington to accommodate the demands of regulation-size polo fields, but there are some options for serious buyers.
Arellano should know, a resident of Wellington from 1979, his Southfields Real Estate company has sold more polo properties in Wellington than anyone.
The Cuban-born Arellano came to Wellington from Nicaragua and jumped right into the real estate business. He has sold and resold thousands of acres in Wellington and is astutely aware of available properties and the requirements needed to cater to a polo operation.
Boasting the highest-rated polo competitions on the continent, Wellington has attracted players from across the country and around the world. With the headquarters of the United States Polo Association just a couple of miles away alongside the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame located on Lake Worth Road and over 70 polo fields in the immediate area, the future of the sport in Wellington seems assured.
“I was actively playing polo in the early years of Wellington,” he offered, “but when the real estate business took off I really didn’t have a lot of time to devote to the sport anymore.”
Arellano’s oldest son, Julio, was rated at an impressive 9-goals and claims two US Open Championships to his credit that include a Triple Crown sweep in 2010 with George Rawlings’ Crab Orchard polo team (26-goal C. V. Whitney Cup, USPA Gold Cup and the United States Open Championship). He also played on the only US team to win the F.I.P World Championship (1989).
His middle son, Carlos (Carlucho) Arellano, Jr. is currently rated at 5-goals and played collegiate polo for the University of Virginia and represented the United States in the F.I.P. World Championships in Melbourne, Australia in 2001.
Youngest son, Diego, was rated at 2-goals before concentrating on his education. He continues to compete but is currently in his final year of college.
How does Arellano view the prospects for polo properties in Wellington?
He has sold properties to most of the top polo operations in the area to include Bob Jornayvaz’s Valiente Farm; Steve Van Andel’s Orchard Hill; George Rawlings’ Crab Orchard; the International Polo Club and many, many more.
“Wellington is a unique equestrian community,” he offers. “We have everyone here from Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg and Bruce Springstein (whose daughters are devoted Hunter-Jumper competitors) to actor Tommy Lee Jones whose San Saba polo teams have competed here for years.”
With over 70 polo fields in the area and a 200-acre world-class equestrian facility that continues to expand, there is no shortage of buyers or world-class facilities to accommodate them, and Wellington still has a few gems available, and Carlos Arellano knows where they are.