If you ask Mariano Aguerre, one of the world’s finest polo players, which athletes he has admired in other sports, the April 2015 WAG cover subject answers without hesitation — Michael Jordan.
Indeed, during the years that His Airness led the stampeding Chicago Bulls, the Argentine Aguerre was as much a fan as any Chicagoan.
“I admired everything about him,” he says, “his demeanor on the court, his attitude, the way he handled the pressure. Like Roger Federer. These guys are gracious in defeat and great when they win.”
Aguerre would also watch the hall of fame inductions in various sports. “And I would think, ‘One day.’”
That day arrived Feb. 17 as Aguerre, a star for Team White Birch at Greenwich Polo Club, was inducted into the Museum of Polo’s Hall of Fame in Lake Worth, Florida. Club founder and White Birch patron Peter M. Brant and wife Stephanie Seymour were among those on hand for the honors, along with Aguerre’s wife, Tatiana, and their four children — Sophie, Lola, Carmen and Antonio.
“It shocked me a little bit but in a good way,” Aguerre says from Wellington, Florida, home of American polo and the Winter Equestrian Festival, “because of the tremendous honor it was and considering the names of all the greats who’ve been inducted.”
With grooms, trainers and many friends from Argentina in attendance, “it was overwhelming,” he adds, “a highlight of my life.”
He is like that, as humble and soft-spoken as he is great, a 10-goaler (out of a possible 10) in a sport that requires power and agility as you travel 35 miles per hour on a 1,000-pound animal. Aguerre, who grew up on a farm outside Buenos Aires, acquired that power and agility under the tutelage of Gonzalo Pieres Sr., a transcendent player and Tatiana’s father. (The Pieres family is to polo what the Kennedys have been to politics. Aguerre’s brothers-in-law Facundo, Gonzalo Jr. and Nicolas are ranked Nos. 2, 5 and 7 respectively on the World Polo Tour.)
At 16, Aguerre came to the United States to play for White Birch. He’s been playing for the team ever since at the commanding No. 3 position.
When he isn’t competing, Aguerre likes to fish along the northern and southern coasts of his native Argentina. But polo is never far from his thoughts. He and Nick Manifold, another Greenwich Polo mainstay, own Los Machitos, “a huge breeding operation” in the Argentine town of Veinticinco de Mayo, which was named for the country’s national day. And Aguerre nurtures the young players of the “Team USPA” program.
Having won the Argentine Open nine times, the U.S. Polo Association Gold Cup eight times, the C.V. Whitney Cup six times, the Hurlingham Open five times and the U.S. Polo Open Championship twice, there doesn’t seem to be much for Aguerre to accomplish. But then, he’s not one to set long-term goals.
“I play the cards in my hand,” he says.