SI Vault
Frank Deford
December 10, 1973
If Jockey Vince Bracciale seems to exist only as Agent Steve Vaonakis' alter ego, he is a very rich and winning one
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December 10, 1973

In Steve's Book, The 'i' Has It

If Jockey Vince Bracciale seems to exist only as Agent Steve Vaonakis' alter ego, he is a very rich and winning one

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No sooner had Jimbo arrived than various members of the regular element began to inquire where The Greek was keeping hisself. "Home, listening to the results, and then at the bank if we win it," Jimbo replies in a comic vein. Steve and Jimbo will simulate kidding one another just this way.

Jimbo's father and lovely mother are situated at a choice location in the dining room where they can witness the card. Jimbo's two older sisters have married and departed the Greater Charles Town area, but his little sister Tina, who is nine and just some kind of beautiful youngster, has accompanied her parents this particular evening. It was as recent as 1970 that Jimbo would baby-sit with Tina on the nights when his mother was selling mutuels and his father was attending to the horses he conditioned. At post time over at Shenandoah, Jimbo and little Tina would get out of the trailer, and then they would scamper across the parking lot, past your Valet Parking sign to where the chute for the sprints is situated. The two of them little individuals would be happy just to watch the horses break. Of course, they could not wager. "Then," Jimbo relates to me, "we would run back and watch TV till the next post." Imagine, the nation's leading reinsman performing these chilhood antics less than four short years ago!

The star-studded feature, The Mountaineer Stakes, has attracted entries from as far away as Belmont, and it does not look at all good for Jimbo. He is on Lexington Park, a speed horse, but he draws the 11 post and he is assigned the heaviest impost in the race. This is, between you and I, the real reason I believe Steve doesn't come up Down Below. "Making me carry 126 around them elbows," he protests to me. "This is like me having to carry the Brooklyn Bridge." But Lexington Park is what you call your honest campaigner, a refugee from the claiming ranks, and Jimbo punches him right out on top. He has only got an eighth of a mile to the turn, but Jimbo has him on the lead there, and he just daylights the field the rest of the way—or moonlights it, as you might accurately be required to say under these nocturnal conditions.

After much folderol in the winner's circle, Jimbo is able to get down, and his mom hugs him for joy. Jimbo weighs in and returns for pictures, and then his mom inquires of him, "Did you remember to weigh in?" Just like she was inquiring of some youngster did he brush his teeth. This is your leading jockey in the United States.

"Yes, Mom, I did that already," he relates, and thereupon he puts his one arm around his mom and his other around his pretty little sister, and they walk off that way. As you can see, Jimbo's hat size is still the same as ever, and this also applies equally to The Greek he is affiliated with around all the various ovals.

That concludes Benjie's report.

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