September 22, 2006

Gutierrez Retires, Zotoluco Triumphs in Tijuana Corrida

History was recorded, Sept. 17, in Pepe López Hurtado’s “Beautiful Bullring by the Sea”, when famed Mexican matador Jorge Gutierrez performed his final Tijuana performance, and El Zotoluco turned in a spectacular performance.

According to correspondent Gary Sloan, Gutierrez, Eulalio (Lalo) López “El Zotoluco”, and Arturo Macias faced a sextet from Bernaldo de Quiroz, which is owned by retired matador Javier Ber-naldo.

With his first bull, “Altivo” (450 kilos), Gutierrez opened with some nice veronicas and the climaxing media veronica. Altivo was brave against the horses. Jorge’s faena was very good to both sides. However, terrible luck with the sword limited him to applause.

There wasn’t much possible with the cape to his second bull, “Arlequín” (445 kilos), but Jorge’s faena was outstanding. He worked both sides, demonstrating great temple and domination. As the plaza band played “Las Golondrinas” (the farewell song), Jorge killed well, was awarded two ears, and took several laps of the arena.

El Zotoluco’s first bull, “Viajero” (545 kilos) was an ultra-dangerous manso. Most other toreros would have made short work of it.

But, responding to an insult from the stands, Lalo performed magic with this un-fightable animal, molding it into a faena of pure taurine art. He worked both sides, demonstrating that he is, indeed, worthy of his top spot on the Mexican taurine ladder.

Following a well-placed ¾ sword, there was a huge ovation, and two well- deserved ears were awarded the matador.

With his second bull of the day, “Misterio” (475 kilos), Lalo opened with very nice veronicas, finished with the media veronica. Following the pic’ing, López performed a set of chicuelinas and a revolera.

Miseterio was a true “toro de bandera” and El Zotoluco was equal to it.

After about 60 or 70 passes, there was strong petition for the indulto, which Lalo ignored and continued his performance. He placed a perfect estocada, and the plaza judge ordered that maximum trophies, ears and tail, be award-ed.

Nevertheless, due to the extreme problems presented by his first bull, I felt that that was the superior performance of the day, perhaps of many years.

With “Andasolo”, his first bull, Arturo Macias—who, two weeks earlier, had thrilled the Tijuana crowd with his reckless courage—opened with kneeling veronicas, which I have never liked, for the toro has no opportunity to exit, properly.

His faena rather boring, with no apparent plan, but plenty of courge. Four attempts with the sword and one descabello thrust finished things, and Macia was applauded.

Macias didn’t do much opening cape work with his second animal, “Almendro” (525 kilos). Following the pic’ing, he gave a set of talaferas, finishing with a serpentina. His faena was strong, but without plan. He demonstrated abundant courage, but also showed that he’s still quite green and needs more experience to become a genuine presence in the bullfight world.

Following a great sword placement, Macias was awarded a pair of ears, although one would have been more appropriate.

All in all, it was a great afternoon, with Jorge Gutierrez going out in style and El Zotoluco delivering one of the best performances that I have ever seen in a Mexican bullring. The next corrida will be Oct. 1 and will feature José Luis Angelino, Juan Antonio Adame, and a third matador,as yet unannounced

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