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Even with the sale of a seven-figure mare at the Keeneland January sale, the real heat on the internet has been generated by the ongoing controversy between rival camps of pedigree specialists in the nicking business.

It began over an interesting and seemingly harmless article by Bill Oppenheim in the Thoroughbred Daily News a week ago. Oppenheim wrote about inbreeding to Northern Dancer as part of the piece and noted that his APEX ratings system and database didn’t take into account “opportunity” (the proportion of successful horses bred on a cross compared to all horses bred on that cross).

Not surprising and no big deal, really, because most mating approaches, when used with a large enough population, will show results that are either at par or below par with regard to their “opportunity.”

But the even-handed and candid manner of evaluating the pedigree data caught the attention of Enicks founder and matings guru Jack Werk. He latched onto Oppenheim’s comments, noting in a post (here) that this was also the same general approach he used to develop the Werk Nick Ratings and other pedigree evaluation tools he and associate Roger Lyons use in the operation of Werk Thoroughbred Consultants.

Although this post drew the attention of pedigree commentators like Sid Fernando, John Sparkman, and me, this acclamation in print would have passed into cyberspace with little fanfare, except that it got under the skin of Alan Porter and Byron Rogers, who cloned the Enicks business model to produce the rival nicking company TrueNicks in partnership with The Blood-Horse.

Perchance Porter and Rogers thought Oppenheim and Werk were ganging up on them because the TrueNick-ers fired back with an incendiary pair of posts against the method used by Oppenheim and Werk. (Read them here and here.)

And then the fireworks started.

Roger Lyons wrote a post addressing Porter’s histrionics that Fernando likened to “treating Porter and Rogers as featherweights” (here). This engendered a series of tweets and onlines comments between Fernando and Rogers about the merits of the controversy. And then Lyons fired the second post that lambasted Porter and Rogers for fundamental contradictions in their methods of evaluating pedigrees and advising clients.

In a post today at his blog, David Miller has an entertaining photo and commentary about the fracas (here) that notes quite sensibly that “‘Nicking’ in itself is only part of the equation when selecting stallions for mares” and urges the parties to chill. He says, “This is no time for sniping over the [mating] business that is left,” but here we must respectfully part company.

There is no time like the present to chop your opponent off at the knees, watch him bleed in the snow, and throw his wasted carcass on the garbage. The problem, of course, for Porter and Rogers is that it’s never a good thing to have Jack Werk go all ninja on your ass, and I think that’s about to happen.

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