Years ago, Alan Porter, the pedigree pundit and Bob Dylan aficionado, will remind people that he arrived here with only a suitcase from the UK, like a rolling stone. Since then, he’s done quite well, thank you, but things weren’t always smooth going for him. There was the time that he needed to get a work visa and approached Dan Liebman at The Blood-Horse to vouch for him, which Dan wouldn’t do because Dan didn’t believe he was a reputable journalist.
So Porter came to me at Daily Racing Form, where I was Bloodstock Editor and knew of his work overseas, and I gave him a weekly gig as a columnist so that he could make a case to Immigration for staying here. It worked. He’s been here since, as a resident alien, but lately he hasn’t been a particularly gracious guest in his adopted land, nor a particularly gracious friend to me — which he was until about a month or two ago.
Alan Porter is zealously ambitious. A few years ago he hooked up with the smooth-talking and like-minded Aussie Byron Rogers to form Pedigree Consultants LLC, which, together with Blood-Horse Publications, operates TrueNicks, a commercial nicking service that for the most part is a blatant ripoff of Jack Werk’s eNicks. The previously mentioned Liebman — the same Dan that wouldn’t once vouch for Porter; but to use Porter’s own words, perhaps it’s a case that “commercial expediency has made friends of former foes” — wrote the infamous advertorial in The Blood-Horse last year heralding the arrival of TrueNicks.
Porter found a partner in Blood-Horse for TrueNicks because the company’s publisher, Stacy V. Bearse, is a longstanding enemy of Jack Werk. I wrote about this here, and you’ll note that Porter commented on this post but didn’t question its overall accuracy. Part of what I wrote in that post was this about Bearse: “After years of trying to get Jack — there’s personal animus here; once, he called Jack pond scum, or something like that – Stacy had his big opening a couple of years back when Alan approached him with the idea of marketing a competing nicking system to Jack’s high-flying eNicks. With this product, Stacy figured, he had an opportunity to hunt down a longtime nemesis and make some money in the process. Therefore, Blood-Horse Publications became a 50 percent stakeholder in what is now called TrueNicks, a nicking system that has cleverly copied the A, B, C, etc., letter ratings that Jack had originated with his rating system. And, by extension, Blood-Horse entered into a new business: that of pedigree recommendations for money.”
The dispute between Stacy and Jack goes back many, many moons, and I know about this because about 17 years ago a representative of The Blood-Horse approached me at Keeneland and told me not to write about Jack Werk if I wanted to further my career. He was delivering a message from some powerful breeders, who were miffed that Jack’s letter ratings were hurting their yearlings at auction if they graded out at Cs, Ds, and Fs. Ironically, now The Blood-Horse is part owner of a nicking service that does exactly the same thing!
I wasn’t particularly great friends with Jack at the time I was given this warning, but I don’t take “threats” well, either. So, instead of boycotting Werk, I actually got to know him better, and I got to like him. We had a mutual friend at the time that brought us together, too. My late, great friend Leon Rasmussen, the DRF Bloodlines columnist and perhaps one of the greatest pedigree writers that ever lived, eventually started writing in Werk’s Owner-Breeder journal and was a Californian like Werk. I met Werk in California several times when visiting Leon at his home in Los Feliz. (Leon was much older than I was, but we’d started a letter-writing relationship when I was 16 in 1976!)
Through me, while Porter was writing at DRF and developing his matings business, he eventually started a relationship with Werk as well, and when Werk wanted to sell Owner-Breeder, I approached Porter about buying it. He was enthusiastic, and did pull the trigger, which included clauses for Werk to stay on and contribute for a certain period of time. Unequivocally I can say this deal soured the Werk-Porter relationship, in Porter’s mind. Werk left the magazine after the allotted time — I thought he should have stayed on, but that was his choice — and Porter had to soldier on alone after he lost another partner in the deal, too. Porter never forgot. From that day on, unknown to Werk — who felt his real enemy was Bearse — Porter swore to get even with Werk, with whom he was obsessed. That was the germination of TrueNicks — a vehicle developed by Porter with the sole intent to run over Jack.
Bearse and Porter aren’t friends and don’t know each other particularly well, according to Porter, but they do share some characteristics aside from disdain for Werk, including a penchant for shooting from the hip and for conduct unbecoming their stations. Is there anyone who doesn’t remember Bearse’s nasty email to Ray Paulick? Yes, the publisher of The Blood-Horse wrote this and never apologized and was never asked to apologize from the TOBA trustees that oversee the magazine, which also is telling:
You wrote a truly shitty column on your alma mater, Crack Pipe. As usual, you got your facts all wrong (Purple Haze?). The more you embarrass yourself with this type of drivel, the more I realize the tragedy of a life and career wasted.”
If you think there are not too many degrees of separation between Bearse and a gangsta rapper, you’d be right. At least Bearse had the guts to sign his name to his rhymes. Not so Porter, who yesterday wrote an attack letter under an assumed identity — “Abraxis” — on David Miller’s blog and left enough thumb prints at the scene to hang himself and Byron. Click here to read Miller’s post and the comments underneath. And if that wasn’t enough, Porter went postal on his own site with language and typos that would have made Bearse proud. Click here to read it. To make matters worse, I’ve since found that “Abraxis,” in true gangsta fashion, has made a personal threat via email against Frank Mitchell, who also addressed issues in Porter’s work.
Meanwhile, as Porter was busy typing away last night, Byron was working Twitter, hyping his company and boasting about the work he and Porter were doing. This didn’t go down well with several local bloodstock observers, who thought the two pedigree pundits should have shown more restraint and humility for their good fortune in this economy, in this country, where many are struggling in the business to stay afloat. It didn’t help, either, that Byron was boasting during a bad Keeneland January sale week. Here’s part of that exchange, including an allusion to Thorstein Veblen’s concept of “conspicuous consumption” that went over Byron’s head:
Pedigreeconsult Getting hectic, Alan just had to pull an all nighter to say yeah or neigh for 57 mares with their selected stallions for a Kentucky breeder
Pedigreeconsult Doing a live phone interview about recently retired Sabirli with a Turkish TV racing show this coming Monday. Did a Stallion Report on him.
Porter is correct in one thing he says: I’ve straddled the fence between him and Jack for years now. I’d also confided to Alan, as a friend and as a professional courtesy, that Jack has for years wanted to have me join his company, and when I started eMatings a year ago I told Alan that I was using Jack’s designer and programmer and Jack’s company for managerial infrastructure, in exchange for giving Jack free advertising on the site. However, I told Alan that eMatings was a small-time company that charges only $150 per mating and is more of a second-opinion firm, not a direct competitor to his consultancy, which charges up to $1,800 for some reports.
I was, therefore, taken aback when both he and Byron hijacked the comments section of a recent story on eMatings on Paulick Report (by Brad Cummings) with blatant self-promotional material, and I was equally disappointed that he didn’t call to congratulate me on the publicity.
It’s around this time that Porter, delusional and isolated in Mississippi, went Ninja on everyone and joined his partner Bearse in the hall of shame.