July 18, 2003

Bullfight World
By Lyn Sherwood

BIG TRIUMPH FOR RAFAEL ORTEGA IN TIJUANA

Some 8,000 fans turned out, July 13, in Plaza El Toreo de Tijuana to see a good herd of Begoña bulls presented for Matadores Eulalio López “El Zotoluco”, Rafael Ortega, and José Maria Luevano. Following the entrance of the toreros into the arena, a brief ceremony was conducted by Jimme Petrich, of the club Los Aficionados de Los Angeles, who honored our national treasure, author/artist Barnaby Conrad.

It was an afternoon of great triumph and shameful failure, as the bulls, which weighed from 460-560 kilos, provided many opportunities, but few of them were realized. The following is how Tijuana Correspondent Gary Sloan saw the afternoon.

Zotoluco

With his first animal, “Excepcional”, at 480 kilos, El Zotoluco found little success with the capote. The bull fell, several times. Following the first and second acts, the matador turned in a decent faena with decent moments on both sides. His sword placement was a bit off and it took him seven attempts with the descabello to dispatch the toro. Applause.

With his second, “Arriatico”, with 460 kilos, Zotoluco began with a farol de rodillas, and that was it for the capote. The faena was difficult, but professionally accomplished. Following a pinchazo and a full thrust came an unusual, yet exceptionally dangerous moment. The puntillero, attempting to apply the coups de gras, was picked up by his groin and throat. Luckily, no serious injury resulted. Applause for Zotoluco and applause for the puntillero.

Ortega

Rafael did nothing with the cape to his first bull, the 560-kilo “Esperencio”, but he did place three pairs of banderillas in commendable fashion. His third act was acceptable, but not aesthetic. After seven attempts with the sword and two golpes with the descabello, he was noisily criticized by the crowd.

But, with his second bull, Ortega seemed determined to triumph. He opened with nice Verónicas, capped with a great media veronica. Following the pic’ing, he placed three pairs of banderillas in grand fashion. The faena that followed was terrific, with great muletazos on both sides, with abundant temple. A great estocada finished things and ears and tail were granted to Ortega, while a slow drag of honor was afforded the bull.

Luevano

With his first bull, the young José Maria Luevano opened with sensational veronicas and a wonderful media veronica. In his faena, he gave a purely right-handed performance. His sword placement was very low, so the plaza judge denied the petition for an ear.

With the last of the day, Luevano—apparently in a pique over not having won an ear from his first bull—did little with the cape and even less with the muleta, and it was over.

It was, generally, a good afternoon for everybody.

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