A Little Bit of History
About the Club
The Sarasota Polo Club has a remarkable legacy filled with stories of timber, cowboys, and cold Milwaukee beer. In 1922 the Uihlein family, founders of Schlitz Brewing Company, acquired a 28,000-acre property East of I-75 in Sarasota county. Over the course of time, that property evolved from a timber farm to incorporate many agricultural businesses including a horse ranch. In 1991 the Sarasota Polo Club became the first development in what would become the award-winning master planned community of Lakewood Ranch, Florida.
Originally the cowboys who worked on our ranch began playing knock-around polo games in their free time. The ranch hands would ride their stock saddles using make-shift equipment, knowing very little about polo, they played by their own rules – Rule #1 – the first rider who falls off their horse must buy beer for the entire team. Robin Uihlein, former Sarasota Polo Club President, ended up donating mallets, saddles, and a few polo ponies to the “cowboy games” – it was then that things got interesting and a “real” polo club was born.
Today the Sarasota Polo Club is a premier luxury sporting destination located on 130 perfectly manicured acres, including 45 private equestrian estates, 7 Bermuda grass polo fields, a half-mile horse track, boarding facilities for 72 horses, a Clubhouse and a Pavilion.
In 2018 James and Misdee Miller acquired the club. James Miller is an accomplished polo player who competes at the Sarasota Polo Club, most often for the Hillcroft team. James is also the president of the Lexington Polo Club. Misdee Wrigley-Miller is a world champion in saddlebred show horses and is one of the world’s most accomplished competitors in Pleasure Driving and Combined Driving. In 2018 Misdee Wrigley-Miller won the United States Equestrian Team’s first-ever four-in-hand team gold medal at the World Equestrian Games.
The Sarasota Polo Club, established in 1991, became the first development in Lakewood Ranch. “We started out small, just two fields. But the people came,” says Robin, recalling that it wasn’t easy to get them out here. “Back then University Parkway was a long, dusty shell road. We would hold events like the Ringling Cup and some big charity events, and it was pretty incredible to watch Mary Fran Carroll (former CEO and Chairman of SMR) get people to come out here. They’d scoff and say, ‘Come on, there’s nothing east of the interstate!’ and she’d say, ‘Oh yes there is; trust me!’ So people would come in their fancy cars and fancy clothes and drive down this dirt road, stuff would be flying everywhere. But they came.”
Over the years, the Sarasota Polo Club has grown into a well-respected club, with paved roads, Bermuda playing fields and a first-class residential polo community. Today the Club boasts seven world-class polo fields and thirty-five private ranches, ranging from five to forty acres (some of the most sought after property in Lakewood Ranch).
The Sarasota Polo Club continues to be a first-class operation with a continued reputation for fairness, fast-playing fields and family fun. It is these elements, combined with the strong emphasis on sportsmanship that keeps the members coming back year after year. With its solid foundation and strong morals, you can be assured that the Sarasota Polo Club will be around for years to come.
Photos for the Sarasota Polo Club website were provided by Eric Nalpas Photography & Julio Aguilar.
Meet the Team
We do our best to ensure that your experience with Sarasota Polo is a positive one. Feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns or if you would just like to introduce yourself. We would like to personally welcome you to the Sarasota Polo Club!