May 30, 2003

Bullfight World
By Lyn Sherwood

Everybody Triumphs in Memorial Day Corrida

A fine herd of bulls from Celia de Barbabosa allowed triumphs for all three matadors, Memorial Day Sunday in Plaza El Toreo de Tijuana.

Miguel Espinosa “Armillita Chico” cut one ear, following a very artistic performance with the first bull of the day. With his second, he was warmly applauded for his efforts.

Tijuana Matador César Castañeda was able to garner only strong applause with his first bull, but returned to win the ears from his second.

The most triumphant matador of the day was Ignacio Garibay, who won an ear from his first, then turned it on, big time, with the last toro of the day, turning in an outstanding performance that would probably have won the tail, had he not missed his first sword entry. He was limited to two ears and left the ring on the shoulders of the fans.

In Juárez, another fine afternoon was recorded when Rafael Ortega, Leonardo Benitez, and Fermín Spinola dealt with a herd from La Venta de Refugio.

Ortega, with his first, worked well with the cape and was vigorously applauded for his efforts with the banderillas. His third act saw good right- and left-handed work, but a poor sword placement denied him the ear. He received his second with a kneeling puerta gayola. He was varied with the cape and outstanding with the muleta, suffering a tossing as he entered with the sword. He was awarded rather liberal ears and tail, while the bull was granted a turn of the ring.

Venezuelan Matador Benitez was the best of the day, although he won no trophies. He worked with rhythm and artistry, but lost ears with the sword.

Fermin Spinola’s first bull didn’t allow him much opportunity for triumph. But, he returned to win a pair of ears from his second bull.

A fine afternoon was recorded during a bloodless afternoon in Fred Renk’s Plaza Santa Maria, in South Texas. A near capacity crowd turned out to watch an afternoon of bloodless bullfighting and an exciting presentation of flamenco music and dancing.

Matadores David Renk, Enrique Delgado, Longinos Mendoza, and aficionado práctico Bruce Hutton, of San Diego, aided by Matador “El Cuate,” braved sweltering temperatures and high winds to deal with an extraordinary herd of novillos from the Don Arturo Garcia ranch. Unfortunately, the afternoon could have been even better, had the animals been pic’ed. Kills were simulated by the matadors who went over the horns to remove a rose that had been glued to each animal’s shoulders.

Bruce Hutton initiated the afternoon with a set of verónicas. But, early in his faena, he was overcome by heat and exhaustion, and retired to a waiting ambulance. He turned his animal over to El Cuate, who presented an extraordinary performance on both sides, demonstrating great artistry and honest domination. The plaza rocked with ole’s and music, as El Cuate showed that he is, indeed, a Mexican matador who has a great future.  He received his alternativa from Enrique Ponce.

At the end, two “ears” were awarded to El Cuate by Plaza Judge Eddie Cohn. A third ear was symbolically awarded to Bruce Hutton, for his courageous efforts.

Enrique Delgado and David Renk each offered outstanding performances with cape and muleta, with two ears awarded to each of the matadors.

But, the highlight of the day came to pass with the last animal of the day, for Longinos Mendoza, who had, only a few weeks earlier, received his alternativa in Plaza Santa Maria.

Mendoza’s bull was very difficult, hesitant, erratic, and constantly searching for flesh. But, the matador was equal to the occasion, turning in an admirable performance under very dangerous circumstances. He missed being awarded the tail when he failed to remove the rose on the first entry, but did well on his second attempt and was awarded an enthusiastic pair of ears.

The celebration lasted into the early evening, with the flamenco presentation, plenty to eat and drink, and a general mood of happiness over that which may have been the most successful presentation in Plaza Santa Maria. Beyond the plaza, in the fields, spectators could observe the seed bull and his harem and imagine the kind of successful afternoons that are yet to come in the plaza.

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