November 9, 2007

Bullfight World
By Lyn Sherwood

Tijuana Matador Debuts, Bombs, In La Plaza Mexico

Aficionados from both sides of the border traveled Nov. 4 to Tijuana and Casa Pla-cencia’s taurine bar “El Burladero” to see the inaugural bullfight of the Plaza Mexico season, which was broadcast by television.

Six bulls from Barralva were presented to Rafael Ortega, Spaniard José Tomás, and Tijuana-born Alejandro Amaya, who was trained by the now late David Silveti. But, Amaya’s performance in the world’s largest plaza de toros was far less than successful.

Bullfight World’s Gary Sloan reviewed the afternoon, as follows:

Senior sword Rafael Ortega received the first bull of the day, “Monicaco” (465 kilos) and gave it a nice set of Veronicas crowned with a media Veronica. For his cape work between pics, Ortega offered Chicuelinas and a revolera. He placed his own banderillas, very well.

He initiated the third act with derechazos and chest passes. He then switched to the left hand for a couple of sets of naturals, followed by returning to the right hand side. Following a great sword, he was awarded an ear. The plaza judge denied a strong petition for the second ear.

Ortega’s second bull, the 505-kilo “Comonito”, was big, old, and filled with sentido. With cape and muleta Ortega had his moments, but big troubles with the sword and descabello limited him to applause.

For many aficionados, the debut of Spaniard José Tomás was the main attraction. He is considered one of the greatest toreros of current times.

“Notario” (465 kilos) didn’t demonstrate a lot of speed or a furious charge. Nevertheless, Tomás took the animal to the center of the ring for a series of eight magnificent Veronicas that rocked the plaza with thunderous oles. Following the pic, Tomás did his favorite quite, Gaoneras, finished with a revolera.

He began his faena de muleta with high passes and a climaxing pase de disdén. He then went to the right hand side for two sets of linked derechazos and chest passes. But, it was on the left side that the Iberian matador really delivered the goods. His naturals were so slow and close, they seemed choreographed. He missed the first sword entry, but nevertheless was granted a somewhat stingy ear.

With his second bull, “Purito”, Tomás heard strong ovations for his opening Veronicas. Following the pics, José did a set of Chicuelinas that may have been some of the best ever performed in La Plaza Mexico. He brought the bull as close as humanly possible, six times, then finished the set with a larga Cordobesa that put the crowd into an uproar.

With the red cloth, Tomás began with pases de trinchera and derechazos, followed by two grand sets of derechazos. He switched to the left for even more magic that inspired explosive bursts of oles and applause.

His sword placement was perfect, but once again, the plaza judge awarded only one stingy ear.

Alejandro Amaya inaugurated his performance with very tentative Veronicas. He seemed a bit rusty and distracted, declining to do a quite, following the pics.

In the third act, Amaya began with a great set of derechazos, followed by two great sets of naturals that were close and linked. Back to the right for two more sets of derechazos. But, while setting up the bull to receive the sword, the matador was caught, spun, and slammed to the sand. He got back up, retrieved the sword and went back to work. But, he could not find the key, and the three warning avisos were sounded, sending “Chino,” alive back to the corrals. This is a torero’s worst nightmare and you could see such etched into Amaya’s face as he walked back to the burladero. This was not what he had in mind for his important Plaza Mexico performance.

With his second bull, “Bil-biano” (525 kilos), Amaya did nothing with the cape. His third act work was, however, very good to both sides as he dominated this large, old bull. But once again, as he was attempting to kill, Amaya was caught and brutally slammed to the ground. He got back up and delivered a great sword placement for which he was strongly applauded.

*****

An extraordinary post season corrida will be celebrated this coming Sunday in Tijuana’s “Beautiful Bullring by the Sea” and will feature the world’s greatest rejoneador (horseback torero), who will alternate with José Rodriguez “Pepehillo” and Juan Cuevas.

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