From the racetrack at Santa Anita to the roller skating oval in Santa Barbara, there were rousing cheers last Saturday for the ladies.
The magnificent filly Zenyatta put on a show for the ages at the Breeders’ Cup. She gave a formidable field of male horses a substantial head start in the $5 million Classic, but on the final turn and the homestretch she blew past them all to win for the 14th time in 14 starts. For one afternoon, almost 60,000 spectators and a national TV audience got a pungent whiff of the glory days of horse racing.
Another sport with nostalgic trappings is roller derby, and it also is making a comeback with females leading the way. Santa Barbara’s all-women team, the Brawlin’ Betties, ended their first season Saturday night at Earl Warren Showgrounds, and a standing-room-only crowd of 700 enjoyed their bout against the West Coast Derby Knockouts of Ventura.
It was not much of a contest on the scoreboard-our Betties won, 184-40-but on the track, both teams got in their share of licks and took their share of spills. The Betties’ jammers-the skater who starts at the back of the pack and scores points by lapping her opponents-were just too quick, too daring, and too elusive. Leading the way was the team captain, Viva Violence!, who adroitly weaved her way through thickets of skaters like Zenyatta.
Every player has her own unique and colorful moniker. The Betties got some crunching blocks from Cherry Napalm, Stella Ar-twat, Honey Hematoma, and Nurse Perverse. Other jammers included Foxx4’s, Mary J Yma, and Vino Noir.
Most of them are too old for high school and college sports, and roller derby gives them an opportunity to stay physically active in a fun way. “I’m really competitive,” said Viva Violence!, a grad student in engineering. “I can’t imagine life before derby.”
“I could take up golf or bowling, but that’s no fun,” said Christine Lapointe (Honey Hematoma), 46, a plumbing salesperson. “You don’t get to hit anybody. This is a time for women to be strong.”
“It’s not as injurious as football,” said 34-year-old Amber Jones (Nurse Perverse), who works in the ER at Cottage Hospital. “We’re all moving in the same direction when we knock each other around.”
Players caught taking cheap shots are vanquished to a penalty box. Several of the Brawlin’ Betties took up residence there during the course of the evening. They didn’t figure the fans came out to see them do figure skating. The Betties will start gearing up for their second season early next year.
SOCK HER: New Mexico soccer player Elizabeth Lambert appeared to be auditioning for roller derby last week. The referee at the Lobos’ game against BYU must have been asleep at the wheel when Lambert continually abused her opponents, pulling one of them down by her ponytail. The episode became an ESPN lowlight. BYU won 1-0 and will be playing UCSB today (Thu., Nov. 12) in the first round of the NCAA tournament at Stanford. The Gaucho women qualified for the big soccer dance for the second straight year by winning a penalty kick shootout in the Big West tournament final at Cal Poly last Sunday.
FLASHBACK: Just how jaw-dropping was Zenyatta’s performance in the Breeders’ Cup Classic? I have to go back to Secretariat’s 31-length victory in the 1973 Belmont Stakes. Adding to the excitement was the call by Santa Anita track announcer Trevor Denman, the Vin Scully of racing.
GAMES OF THE WEEK: UCSB has a big, strong women’s basketball player, 6’4″ junior Mekia Valentine, who runs the floor as if she’s on roller skates. The Gauchos open their regular season at 7 p.m. on Friday (Nov. 13) at the Thunderdome against Fresno State. : The Santa Barbara High Dons have one more chance to win a football game this year, and it’s the one game they’d like to win: the 50th annual Big Game at San Marcos (Fri., 6pm). The host Royals, who earlier in the season beat Dos Pueblos, are vying for the city championship. : SBCC’s football finale will be Saturday (6pm) against East L.A. at La Playa Stadium. The Vaqueros rolled to a 41-24 victory at L.A. Valley last weekend. : The Gaucho men’s basketball team was impressive in a 101-64 exhibition victory over Sonoma State last Saturday. It’s scheduled to open the regular season at 7 p.m. on Saturday against Cal State Los Angeles, but the game time may be changed if the men’s soccer team is playing for the Big West tournament championship that night.