March 10, 2006

Bullfight World
By Lyn Sherwood

What An Afternoon!

A Great Day in Plaza Santa Maria

The last corrida of the season in Fred Renk’s Plaza Santa Maria, in La Gloria, Texas, turned out to be the best, ever celebrated in that plaza.

It was also one that allowed the spectators to witness how professional toreros deal with both easy, as well as complicated, bulls.It was a mixed card, featuring matadores, a novillero, and an amateur.

Aficionado práctico Jim Verner alternated with matadores Enrique Delgado and Daniel Ayala, and novillero Antonio Guajardo, who faced two bulls from the Don Rafael Mendoza ranch and two from the La Querencia ranch of Fred Renk.

Verner, who is one of the finest amateur toreros in the world, opened the afternoon with a fine, young animal, to which he gave an outstanding perfor-mance. He opened with veronicas Sevillanas and rondeñas, climaxed with excellent media veronicas. Antonio Guajardo entered to do a quite of exciting, but not really artistic, chicuelinas. He seemed nervous, anxious to prove himself.

Verner then progressed to a faena that presented a great variety of muletazos, on both sides, all of which were enthusiastically applauded and ole’d by the crowd and drew diana salutes. As he is known for doing, Jim made the symbolic kill recibiendo, properly snatching the paper flower from the bull’s back.

Had this animal been presented in Mexico or Spain, it would have been given a slow drag from the arena. Following strong audience petition, Verner took a triumphant turn of the ring, holding the precious pair of ears that he had earned.

Enrique Delgado, who hadn’t done very well, the previous Sunday, seemed dedicated to redeeming himself. His eyes reflected a degree of determination that left no doubt that he was prepared to give his “A” game. And, indeed, he did.

Opening with excellent veronicas that worked the animal to the center of the ring, rematado with a grand media veronica, he continued with a quite of chicuelinas that inspired a huge ovation. Enrique realized that he had drawn an exceptional animal, one that seemed anxious to allow a grand triumph. A true toro de bandera and a true torero of grand artistry. What a great combination!

Delgado’s faena was nothing less than magnificent, particularly on the left hand side. His dominio was complete, his temple sublime. He made the whole thing seem easy. He was never in trouble. A true professional. And, when he lined up to kill, he went directly over the horns and easily snatched the paper flower. Following a huge ovation, the plaza judge, aided by his asesor, “El Coralito”, granted ears and tail to Delgado.

If this animal had been presented in Mexico or Spain, it would have, undoubtedly, been afforded a turn of the ring. Truly, a fine specimen of noble blood.

The afternoon then switched from the easy to the difficult. The next two bulls, blacks, which were born and raised on the Fred Renk ranch, presented complications that could only be resolved by toreros of abundant courage and grey matter. And, that’s exactly what took place. Each bull should have been afforded a vuelta, or at least a slow drag.

Daniel Ayala was limited to brega with the cape. But, in the third act, he turned it on, in grand fashion. The animal was strong and brave, and Ayala was up to its challenge, as he gave series after series, on both sides. What a fine toro! What a fine torero! At the end, he “killed” in truly professional fashion, and once again, ears and tail were awarded.

The last bull was for Antonio Guajardo, who had earned the opportunity by demonstrating great abilities in three previous occasions, working as an assistant to the matadores, so much so, that the plaza judge had even awarded him an ear. And, he proved that he is a genuine hope for the future. This youngster, as Delgado and Ayala, is from Monterrey, the cradle of great Mexican toreros, and he lived up to that city’s reputation.

Again, cape work was limited to brega.  And, again, the complicated animal proved to be outstanding in the third act. Guajardo gave it an excellent faena on both sides, climaxing each set properly and honorably. He killed well, and the judge granted him two ears. But, as the crowd petition was so strong and enthusiastic, he had to also award the tail.

What an afternoon! Eight ears and three tails! What a way to close the season! What an historic afternoon for Fred Renk’s bulls and Plaza Santa Maria. It was a day that all will long remember. Olé!

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