Monthly Archives: April 2013

Day Three of the La Martina Miami Beach Polo World Cup Comes Down to the Wire


The Raleigh vs James Royal Palm-Jet Blue. (Photo: The Polo Life/Mitchell Zachs)

The ninth annual La Martina Miami Beach Polo World Cup, the world’s largest and most prestigious Beach Polo competition, ended its second day of play with a capacity crowd on the edge of their seats and a penalty goal shoot-out to look forward to on the final day.

There was no lack of effort on the part of any of the competing teams in Saturday afternoon’s matches, with each of the three victories coming by one goal margins.

The Raleigh team, consisting of Bash Kazi, Juan Monteverde, John Gobin and David Tafuri, scored the first win of the day in a hard fought 14-13 victory over a game James Royal Palm Hotel/Jet Blue team (Neku Atawadi, Oscar Mancini and Sebastian Dawnay).

The Raleigh bounced back from a 7-6 first half deficit, behind six second half goals from Juan Monteverde (the team’s high scorer with nine goals). James Royal Palm Hotel/Jet Blue team’s Oscar Mancini scored a game high of 12 goals in a losing effort.

The team from La Martina, consisting of Guillermo Steta, Santi Torres and Carlos Gracida, battled Merchant Hub (Tommy Kato, Jamie Morrison and Luis Escobar) to a 5-5 halftime score and trailed 8-7 with just one chukker to play. Dominic State replaced an injured Tommy Kato (who suffered a pulled groin muscle) as Merchant Hub took an 8-7 one goal lead after the chukker.

Santi Torres and Carlos Gracida scored two goals apiece in the final period for the 11-10 win despite a frantic rush by the Merchant Hub trio. Torres and Gracida scored four goals apiece in the victory while Merchant Hub’s Luis Escobar led all scoring with eight goals.

The final game of the day was another nail biter. The team from Grey Goose (Tom Ravenal, Lance Vetter, Vincent Mesker and Guille Usandizaga) and the team from Small Luxury Hotels of the World™ (MZ Kazi, Carlitos Gracida, Kris Kampsen and Claudio Ochoa) tied it up at 3-3 after the first chukker and 6-6 after the second.

Grey Goose took a 10-8 lead in the third chukker, outscoring SLH 4-2, but SLH wasn’t ready to roll over yet. Trailing 13-10, Grey Goose watched Kris Kampsen convert a 2-point goal from midfield and tied it up at 13-13 with time running out.

A foul by SLH sent Grey Goose’s Vincent Mesker to the penalty line with 16 seconds on the clock. Mesker converted the shot for the winning goal sending the tournament finals in to confusion.

With three teams – La Martina, The Raleigh and Grey Goose – all tied at 2-0, a shoot-out is scheduled to be played at 2:00pm, following Sunday’s 1:00pm match between Merchant Hub and the James Royal Palm Hotel/Jet Blue team.

The top two shoot-out winners will face one another in the 3:00pm finals. The loser will play SLH immediately following the shoot-out.

Day three of the La Martina Miami Beach Polo World Cup comes down to the wire. 2013, April 18. By Ales Webbe. Retrieved from


Three-way Shootout awaits Polo Finalists in Miami Beach Event

Merchant Hub blog 1

Beachgoers making their way to Miami Beach certainly got their fair share of sun and surf on Saturday, but they also had a chance to catch a glimpse of something a little different.

The La Martina Miami Beach Polo World Cup IX, in its second day, drew a diverse crowd that included curious onlookers and featured three exhilarating matches that were each decided by a single goal.

Raleigh/Comcast, La Martina and Grey Goose emerged as winners of their respective matches and will face each other in a three-way shootout to determine who will play in Sunday’s championship match.

After intermingling with spectators at the conclusion of the afternoon matches, players from the teams were impressed by the event’s festive feel, seeing the event as a step in the right direction for a sport looking to extend its reach in South Florida and beyond.

“It was a crazy atmosphere, and I think the crowd just loves it,” John Gobin of Raleigh/Comcast said. “It’s perfect for polo, and the crowd this year seems bigger. It’s just a lot more fun.”

Kris Kampsen of Small Luxury Hotels (SLH) added: “It’s amazing. This event being here on the beach opens the game to a whole new audience that never normally consider going to a polo game, and it broadens the horizon of the sport.”

In the opening match of the day, Raleigh/Comcast, with a four-goal lead in the final chukker against James Hotel/JetBlue, appeared to be headed for a comfortable win, but a late push by James Hotel/JetBlue tied the score with just over a minute to go.

But Juan Monteverde, who led Raleigh/Comcast with nine goals, scored moments later to give it the lead and a 14-13 victory.

“Our game was rough, tough fast … it was back-and-forth the whole time,” said Gobin, who added five goals in the winning effort. “At the end of the day we pulled it off.”

La Martina’s team jumped out to an early three-goal lead in the first chukker of its match with Merchant Hub. That would be the largest lead of the match, however, as Merchant Hub went on the attack and tied the score at 5 just before the end of the second chukker.

But a balanced offensive effort for La Martina, led by four goals each from Santi Torres and Carlos Gracida, was enough to outlast Merchant Hub in an 11-10 win.

Grey Goose and SLH, in the afternoon’s last match, ended the tournament’s second day in thrilling fashion.

Trailing by three goals with time winding down in the fourth and final chukker, Kampsen came up big for SLH with an impressive two-point shot through the uprights followed by a converted penalty shot to tie the score at 12.

Unfortunately for SLH, it was enough as Grey Goose’s Vincent Mesker converted his seventh penalty shot of the game with 16 seconds remaining to lift his team to a 13-12 win. Mesker finished with a team-high eight goals.

“There was a lot of pressure and it was very hectic in that moment,” Mesker said. “A shot like that messes with your mind.”

Three-way shootout awaits polo finalists in Miami Beach event. 2013, April 28. By Joel Delgado. Retrieved from

Sand Polo On Miami Beach – NBC ‘Six In The Mix’


Six years ago Tommy Kato watched the Miami Beach Polo World Cup, mesmerized by the athletes and horses.

Following the final match, Kato approached one of the top U.S. players — Luis Escobar — about learning how to play the sport. He had no previous experience riding a horse.

Kato hired Escobar as an instructor and bought a couple of thoroughbred horses, practicing four to five days a week for two years at Santa Clara Polo Club in Wellington. The following year, he began participating in tournaments before entering the world cup as a player in 2012. Continue reading

Prepaid Card Competition Is Bringing Down Fees

Large banks are entering the prepaid debit card market and helping drive down fees.

Big national and regional banks are also making fees less complicated by offering low, fixed monthly costs, says Greg McBride, senior financial analyst at, which released a survey of prepaid debit cards today.

The survey found that 13% of issuers, mainly large banks, charge a single monthly fee of $4.95 to $7, says Continue reading

Beach Buzz: Polo competition returning to South Beach – Miami Beach –


Polo returns to the sands of South Beach (between 20th and 22nd Streets) April 25-28.

The competition begins April 25 with the South Beach Women’s Polo Cup. The day-long series of round-robin matches features eight teams, including 2012 champs Cecilia Cochran and Alicia Harden, and SMU’s Pamela Flanagan and Tiffany Busch (of the Anheuser-Busch family).

Friday through Sunday (April 26-28), six men’s teams will vie for the ninth annual Miami Beach Polo World Cup. Players include the legendary Carlos Gracida of Mexico, Kris Kampsen of the United States (last year’s MVP), and Luis Escobar of Costa Rica.

Riding alongside Escobar is his teammate and “patron” (team owner): Tommy Kato of Miami Beach. Kato, 40, owns Merchant Hub, a Beach-based credit-card processing company. He attended the event six years ago — and was hooked.

“I’d never ridden a horse before, and when I saw that game, I decided I needed to play in that tournament,” Kato said.

He took polo lessons from Escobar’s Santa Clarita ranch/school in Wellington — and later bought thoroughbreds from Escobar, including two (Julio and Sanyo) that will participate in this year’s competition. Continue reading

Mobile Payments—an Easy Way for the Retail Industry to Accept Payments

Despite the popularity and widespread use of credit cards these days, people still often have to lug around chunky wallets because of the numerous cards they need to carry around with them. But thanks to mobile credit card processing technology, we can now simply use our mobile phones to make payments at various establishments.

Because of the developments in e-commerce and the advanced technology of mobile phones, mobile payments have become a convenient alternative method of making payments. Not only are they convenient for customers, but they also ease the transaction process for the merchants. Aside from that, merchants can benefit from the lower overhead costs they require and can be more assured with the security of the transaction. Furthermore, with the number of people who own smart phones than credit or debit cards, this mode of payment would no doubt become prevalent and the most convenient way to pay. Continue reading

Capital One Credit, Card Auto-Loan Delinquencies Fell In March

Capital One Financial Corp. (COF) said its U.S. credit-card delinquencies fell in March from February, while its international credit-card business also showed a small decline.

Capital One’s 30-day delinquency rate for U.S. credit cards fell to 3.37% last month from 3.68% in February, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

At its international credit-card business, the rate edged down to 4.04% from 4.07%.

Auto-loan delinquencies declined to 5.58% in March from 5.87% in February.

Charge-offs–loans banks don’t expect to be able to collect–at the U.S. card business rose to 4.69% in March from 4.27% in February. Internationally, the rate jumped to 4.86% from 4.54% a month earlier. Auto financing charge-offs were down to 1.27% from 1.59%.

Capital One reported in January its fourth-quarter earnings surged as net revenue jumped 39%, though earnings and revenue missed analysts’ expectations owing to higher loan-loss provisions and operating expenses.

Shares closed Friday at $54.66 and were inactive in recent premarket trading. The stock has dropped 11% in the past three months.
Capital One Credit, Card Auto-Loan Delinquencies Fell In March.  2013, April 15. By  Saabira Chauhuri. Retrieved from