Jack Werk, 65, founder of Werk Thoroughbred Consultants and the eNicks online mating and stallion promotion service, died early Sunday morning, attended by close friends and family, after a long battle with cancer. He is survived by his daughter Kris and son Steve.
In the late 1980s, Werk transformed a long-time hobby into the most vibrant pedigree consulting company the thoroughbred industry had ever seen. The popular Werk Nick Rating, only the best-known of Werk Thoroughbred Consultants' many innovations, together with Werk's imaginative approach to product creation and marketing, catapulted the company into prominence. As advisor to the late Eduardo Gaviria, Werk's company recommended the mating that produced 1997 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Real Quiet, who raced for the same connections as those of 2010 Classic prospect Lookin at Lucky, also the result of a WTC-recommended mating.
In 1987, with the support of his friend and long-time Daily Racing Form “Bloodlines” columnist, Leon Rasmussen, Werk founded the influential Owner-Breeder, a first-of-its-kind monthly journal dedicated to thoroughbred pedigree analysis and evaluation. Werk's column, “Who's Hot, Who's Not,” the most popular feature of the publication, was reinvented as a blog at www.werkhorse.com, the company's website, where Werk continued to provide insightful pedigree commentary until just days prior to his death.
In 2004 Werk launched what has become his company's most successful venture ever, the wildly popular eNicks.com, an online mating assistance facility featuring WTC's signature Werk Nick Rating. “With the remarkable success of eNicks,” said Sid Fernando, Werk's long-time friend and hand-picked successor in the management of the company, “Jack has left the company stronger than it's ever been. We're all devastated at losing Jack, but his most heartfelt wish was that the company go on, and he put a solid plan in place that promises the thoroughbred industry WTC's high standard of service for a long time to come. I'm going to see to it that the company keeps that promise.”
“Knowing Jack has made me a better person,” said Roger Lyons, long-time friend and partner with Werk in the popular pedigree software, CompuSire, which the two founded in 1992. “Jack's friendship, advice, and vision have gone a long way in my life, both professionally and personally.”
Chuck Fipke, long-time client and close personal friend, once named a foal out of his mare Recoletta “Jack's Work” in honor of Jack. “Recoletta was his favorite mare,” Fipke said. “Jack and I were completing a distance aptitude research project when Jack suddenly passed. Jack has trained his assistant Elaine Belval in this project, but there will be a huge void for owners and breeders throughout the world. But Jack will have a place in all our hearts as 'Jack's Work' lives on.”
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