Bill Rancic Defends His Wife Giuliana After Fashion Police Controversy: 'I Tried to Get Them to Release the Footage' 41 years, 2,184 covers and 55,435 stories from PEOPLE magazine's history for you to enjoy
- Watch a Cat Get Completely Shut Down by … a Flower? (Video)
- The Best Photos from the Week of June 22- June 29, 2015
- Evangeline Lilly Reveals She's Expecting Baby No. 2 as She Shows Off Bump on the Red Carpet
- And the Title of the New Star Trek Movie Is …
- Matt Bomer's Reaction to Channing Tatum's Bromantic Compliments: 'I Blushed'
On Newsstands Now
- Matthew McConaughey: In His Own Words
- Jessa Duggar's Wedding Album
- Brittany Maynard's Final Days
Pick up your copy on newsstands
Click here for instant access to the Digital Magazine
People Top 5
LAST UPDATE: Tuesday February 10, 2015 01:10PM EST
PEOPLE Top 5 are the most-viewed stories on the site over the past three days, updated every 60 minutes
- September 19, 1977
- Vol. 8
- No. 12
Race Track Chaplain Izzy Vega Fights Liquor and Gambling Among His Two-Legged Parishioners
"I'm a social worker, counselor and pastor," says the 36-year-old native Texan, one of seven chaplains working 20 U.S. tracks for the interdenominational Racetrack Chaplaincy of America.
Boredom, betting and booze are the main problems of his flock, three-fourths of them Latinos cut adrift from home and Catholicism. Though ordained by the fundamentalist Assemblies of God, Vega says, "I'm not looking for converts clutching the Bible. I gauge success by the change in people's lives—whether they can control their drinking or gambling." Says Vega of the lure of the pari-mutuel window, "I don't blame them. They feel they know every muscle of the horses they work with. They have faith that they've groomed them well." Vega's advice: "Eat your betting money but don't bet your eating money."
With such access to trainers, hot-walkers and grooms, is Vega ever tempted by tips? "It gets more difficult every year," he admits, but never gambles himself. There should be separation, he says, between church and chance. When he preaches at local churches or talks to women's clubs, Vega says, "They often criticize me for being here—then ask for tips."
The bilingual bachelor is called Father, Padre and even Rabbi but generally is known as Izzy. The son of a hard-drinking father, he was the second of nine children and age 14 when his mother, pregnant with her 10th, died of a heart attack. ("My father never touched a bottle after that.")
After her death, Vega recalls, "people were so nice to us. I saw a new side of Christianity, people who practiced their faith." Izzy Vega's faith may be the only sure thing at the track.
Treat Yourself! 4 Preview Issues
The most buzzed about stars this minute!