This week, Bullfight World turns the column over to correspondent Gary Sloan, who names the best toros and toreros of the 2006 Tijuana bullfight season.
The story of the year was the change of management of “The Beautiful Bullring by The Sea,” which is now being administered by Pepe López and Antonio Hurtado, sons of the late Major Salvador López Hurtado. Previously, Antonio directed the activities of Plaza Monumental de Juárez, but as that plaza no longer exists, he has joined forces with Matador Pepe López to manage Plaza Monumental de Tijuana.
It was the best season that I can remember seeing, in many years. There was some excellent toreo and some fine toros. There were also some real clunkers, but such is to be expected in any bullfight season.
In reviewing the season, let me say that I missed the July 14 event, the first of three corridas de toros that were designed to celebrate the 117th birthday of Tijuana. (It would be great if this should become an annual event.)
In Bullfight World’s opinion, the following were the most memorable toros and toreros of the summer.
Best Herd of Bulls
An absolute tie. The Marrones of Sept. 3, for their ferocity and size, and the herd from José Julian Llaguno, for their size and nobility.
Best Bull of The Season
Once again, nearly a tie. Two bulls turned out to be the best of 2006:
“Orfebre”, from Marron, which was given the lídia by El Zotoluco, in splendid style, surrendering a pair of ears, and “Mexicano,” of José Julian Llaguno, a 600-kilo brute that was a true Toro de Bandera. Unfortunately for the bull and its breeder, it fell to a very green Xavier Ocampo and, thus, surrendered no trophies. ¡Lástima de toro!
Of the two bulls, I would have to say that the best was Mexicano.
Best Capote Lances
No contest, here. Spaniard Morante de La Puebla’s veronicas with the first bull of the day were the best that I have seen performed in that plaza de toros. They were spectacular.
The next day, author Barnaby Conradwho had made the trip from his home in Carpent-eriaobserved, “Those three veronicas were worth the entire trip”.
Best Banderillas Placemements by a Matador
This honor belongs to Rafael Ortega, for the many fine pairs that he placed, this past season.
Best Banderillas Placements by a Subalterno
The best banderillas were placed by Manolo Furete.
No surprise, here. The honor belongs to the veteran picador, “Miura”, perhaps the best that Mexico has to offer.
Best Faena de Muleta
There were three candidates for this honor, including El Zotoluco, Morante de La Puebla, and Antonio Barrera. But, the best had to be Morante de La Puebla, who offered two faenas that were absolutely sensational.
Best Sword Placement
Two worthy candidates vied for this category: Morante de La Puebla, killing recibiendo to his second bull, July 15, and El Zotoluco with his second bull, Sept. 15, killing volapié. Although Morante’s recibiendo kill was a rare event, Zotoluco’s estocada was superb, killing his toro almost instantly. So, the best of the year, in a close competition, was El Zotoluco.
Best Torero of The Season
Without a doubt, Eulalio López “El Zotoluco,” for his inspired work, throughout the season.
And, that wraps it up, fellow aficionados. Agree with me, or not, the above were my choices. Of course, Bullfight World will continue, as always.
See you, next year!