Day At The Track

Hall of Famer Nick Saponara passes away

08:22 AM 09 Dec 2019 NZDT
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Nick Saponara, harness racing
Nick Saponara passed away Saturday

HARRISBURG, PA - Nicholas J. Saponara, a member of the Harness Racing Communicators Hall of Fame, and a past president of the U.S. Harness Writers Association, an organization to which he belonged for 57 years, passed away on Saturday after health issues.

A graduate of Northeast Catholic High School in Philadelphia in 1957, that same year Saponara joined the sports department of the Philadelphia Bulletin, at that time the major evening newspaper of the Greater Philadelphia metro area. He worked for the Bulletin for 25 years, and he served as the handicapper and morning line oddsmaker for the tracks covered by the Bulletin, also making the official track morning line at Brandywine, Liberty Bell, Atlantic City Harness, and the Keystone thoroughbred track.

Saponara was a co-founder of the Delaware Valley Chapter of the Harness Writers in 1962, and served many years as the chapter's secretary. He served as national President of USHWA for three years, 1980-1983, and sat on the association Board of Directors for 29 years. Nick was also the driving force in spreading the annual national awards dinner beyond its traditional New York City home, and was the organizer behind many successful events, notably having the famed Philadelphia Mummers perform at an Atlantic City gathering.

Saponara was also a harness horse owner, along with longtime friend Marv Bachrad. They entrusted their horses to an up-and-coming French-Canadian horsemen named Herve Filion, and they enjoyed the success rate that Herve enjoyed as a rising comet in the sport.

Saponara also owned thoroughbred horses, and was a member of the Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association board of directors. In September of 2019, Parx thoroughbred track honored Saponara with inclusion into its Hall of Fame (video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=bFGtP_A3ss0).

A viewing for Mr. Saponara will take place this Wednesday, December 11, at St. Ephrem Church, 5340 Hulmeville Road, Bensalem PA, from 9:30 to 11:15 a.m. A funeral mass will follow at 11:30 a.m. Burial will take place at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, 3301 W. Cheltenham Ave., Cheltenham PA.

by Jerry Connors, for USHWA

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