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Difficult Bulls Upend Matador’s Best Intentions In 3rd Tijuana Corrida

Author: Mark Schwarz
Created: 15 August, 2014
Updated: 13 September, 2023
5 min read

Monica Serrano and the Forcados
Monica Serrano and the Forcados

Tijuana, B.C. Mexico – One novillo (young bull) of La Estancia, excellent, and one of Jorge Hernandez Andres, weak, for rejoneadora Monica Serrano and 4 bulls of San Jose, 2 well presented, 2 not; weak and defensive in different degrees; and a “gift” bull of Boquilla del Carmen, poor; weights: 847; 880 (novillos); 1,001; 1,078; 1,034; 1,089 lbs.

An encouragingly large crowd, just shy of half-plaza, turned out to see the last, and arguably, the least attractive, cartel of the first ½ (or 1/3?) of the new Tijuana season; testament to the success of Casa Torero’s strategy of new age advertising strategies and tried and true taurine wisdom, “real bulls, real matadors, and they will come…”

Unfortunately, the animals offered up for the corrida of August 3rd were fighting stock in name only; even their physical presentation left something to be desired, which had not been the case with the encierros of Pozo Hondo and Campo Hermoso of the first two weeks. Given such poor material, the aspirations of the toreros assigned to face them were, by definition, limited, but each managed something of worth beyond the somewhat generous awarding of two ears; one for Rejoneadora Serrano and one for Matador Barba.

Monica Serrano is the daughter of one of Mexico’s most famous mounted toreros; Ramon Serrano. She has been slowly learning the complex craft of the “art of Marialva” and in this corrida showed signs that all of the hard work is beginning to pay off. Her beautiful horses were all superbly trained and trusted her direction to emerge unhurt from several very compromising encounters with her two novillos. The fact that she found herself in several such predicaments indicated that there is still learning to be done in terms of choosing the most appropriate terrain from which to challenge her adversaries, but her exciting escapes demonstrated the ability to think on her feet; or hooves, as the case may be.

Her placements of the rejones de castigo, banderillas, and, above all, final rejones for the kills were uneven; the ear cut was more for her determination than the overall quality of her performance.

For the second week in a row, the Forcados Mazaltecos—the Portuguese bull stoppers—performed their curious pegas—wrestling the bull to a standstill just before the kill—to the great delight of the crowd. Their inclusion has certainly become a draw in itself; nothing to do with toreo, but undeniably appealing to a sector of the crowd.

Fabian Barba has survived as a matador due in equal parts to his sold ring craft and still youthful zeal, even after more than 11 years as a full matador. His career has never reached more than modest heights; he is included in the major ferias as an aperitif or final act, rarely the main event. None the less, his aficion is front and center, and his best effort is a foregone conclusion.

This Sunday was no different, as Barba demonstrated efficient work with the large capote to the noble, but very weak “Centenario” run in 2nd place. He did everything but steer the progressively weaker bull through the first two series of muletazos, but that was all “Centenario” could muster. Subsequent attempts were a frustrating succession of right handed passes extracted one by one from a bull no longer able to follow his instinct. A low, but full, sword won an ear, awarded, like Serrano’s, as much for Barba’s good intentions as his actual work. His attempt to greet “Ventanero”, the 5th bull of the day, with a kneeling “porta gayola” pass as the bull made his entrance nearly resulted in a serious wound, and that was the highlight of the effort. “Ventanero” was an even less enthusiastic participant than “Centenario” and Barba spent an inordinate amount of time looking for a key that didn’t exist. Two half-swords, a prolonged wait and two descabellos put an end to the agony.

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Barba decided to gift a seventh bull, “Presidente” of the Boquilla del Carmen ranch as a way to make up for the frustrating afternoon, but as is usual with “gift” bulls, the general tone of futility was simply emphasized, not ameliorated, when an endless attempt at a faena produced nothing memorable.

Jose Mauricio is a torero recognized for his elegance and finesse in working with bulls. His physique and face bring to mind those of a ballet dancer, and his reputation is, perhaps unfairly, as a somewhat fragile, less naturally brave, or stoic, torero; one who must have a “special” bull in order to demonstrate his great aesthetic. This corrida proved that he isn’t stumped by difficult animals, and that he is more than a pretty face.

His lot was, by far, the worst of the day, ranging from the mortal danger of “Cubetero” who never offered a clean attack, rather turning quickly and tossing his—mercifully—short horned head from side to side. Mauricio insisted in trying to get something—anything—out of the animal, but was finally forced to desist, finishing with a magnificent machateo—cutting, low passes to position the bull for a Calvary of 4 part swords and a final effort to finish. “Adelito”, a handsome gray, was less dangerous than “Cubetero” only because he was weaker to begin with. Once again, Mauricio tried to give something worth remembering, which turned out to be the excellent full estocada that ended the regular corrida.

The season now took a one week break, until the 17th of August. Dates of August 17, 24, and 31 have been announced by Casa Toreros; although the combinations for those events have yet to be formalized. The empresarial group did advance that Mexico’s number one matador, Joselito Adame, will return to Tijuana on August 31, in what should be a marvelous afternoon of bulls.

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