Stallion Spotlight offers stud farm representatives a chance to address breeders and answer questions as they plan their future matings.
In this edition, Michael Slezak, bloodstock adviser for Kaz Hill Farm, discusses Name Changer, a Grade 3-winning son of Uncle Mo whose first foals are weanlings of 2022.
Question: What makes Name Changer an attractive stallion for potential breeders?
Michael Slezak, Bloodstock Adviser, Kaz Hill Farm: Name Changer has the holy trinity of attributes that breeders want from a stallion: race record, physical, and pedigree. Name Changer is the only graded stakes-winning son of Uncle Mo standing in New York. He’s a big, athletic horse with great balance, and quite correct to boot. And, from a pedigree standpoint, Name Changer’s sire Uncle Mo just keeps on maintaining an unbelievable pace — with 82 lifetime stakes winners and counting — and his multiple stakes-winnning dam is from the immediate family of champion 3-year-old Afleet Alex and major stakes winners Seabhac, Unforgettable Max and Topic.
If I’ve got a mare that needs help from a stallion to improve a physical aspect for her foals, what can Name Changer best contribute to that equation?
Slezak: If you’ve got a mare who needs some size and scope, Name Changer can really help. Even his weanlings from our less imposing mares — including the notoriously diminutive multi-millionaire Megahertz — have plenty of substance to them.
What would a breeder looking to capture the magic of his sire Uncle Mo find familiar in Name Changer?
Slezak: Just like Uncle Mo, Name Changer was a romping debut winner as a 2-year-old going six furlongs on the dirt, and also had the class and stamina to carry his speed up to 1 1/8 miles, where he won the Grade 3 Monmouth Cup among his three lifetime stakes wins. Not only that, but when you see Name Changer in person, he’s very much cut from the same cloth as his breed-shaping sire. He’s got that Uncle Mo look about him, for sure.
Name Changer’s first foals arrived earlier this year. What is your impression of them so far?
Slezak: Name Changer is stamping his progeny in a major way. His first foals are uniformly leggy with good bone and great shoulders, and they’re all very correct.
What do you think makes Name Changer a good fit for the New York program?
Slezak: Name Changer raced exclusively on dirt, but both his sire Uncle Mo and his broodmare sire Northern Afleet get you runners that will go short or long, show precocity and durability, and excel on any surface — dirt, turf, synthetic. Heck, they’d probably throw it down over broken glass.
Name Changer ran consistently well from ages two to seven. How do you think this helps a horse’s chances at stud?
Slezak: Not every New York-bred is going to be a slam dunk at the sales or turn out to be a graded stakes horse, but a lot of breeders in this state — from the big, commercial farms to the backyard breeders — know that New York State Breeders’ Awards can really help pay some bills. Knowing that Name Changer wasn’t just fast and classy, but also sound enough to be competitive in stakes company in his sixth year on the racetrack, can give breeders and buyers some confidence that his progeny won’t be fragile flashes in the pan. Durability can mean profitability — especially when maiden specials are still running for a $70,000 pot at Aqueduct in February, y’know?
If you had to show breeders one race to explain to them what Name Changer is all about, which one would you choose, and why?
Slezak: Obviously, Name Changer was a graded winner at Monmouth and a listed stakes winner in New York, but his win in the Richard W. Small Stakes at Laurel Park was a crackerjack. He was a 3-year-old facing elders at nine furlongs, including future Grade 1 winner Discreet Lover and graded winners Ami’s Holiday, Tommy Macho and Irish Strait. Name Changer showed good speed to get position, flashed a wicked turn of foot to take command at the top of the stretch, and drove home over a loaded field of 11 horses, every single one of whom would eventually go on to be, at a minimum, a stakes winner or graded stakes-placed.
What is something about Name Changer that you think goes overlooked?
Slezak: There’s no such thing as a sure thing in the stallion game, but I really think it instills confidence when you see a horse who comes out firing and wins first time out on the dirt. Into Mischief did it. Curlin did it. Uncle Mo did it. Tapit did it. Gun Runner did it. And so did Name Changer.
What makes Name Changer a value in his price bracket?
Slezak: When folks send a mare to Name Changer, they can do it knowing Kaz Hill is betting big on this horse, too. We’ve booked some world-class mares to him in his first two seasons: Grade 1 winners Megahertz and Spun Sugar, stakes winners My Dinah and Behrnik’s Bank, and stakes producers Pola Golden R.N., Behrnik, Beach, etc. You’re not going to find a lot of stallions in the $2,500 bracket with that kind of support. And lest anyone forget, another talented, good-looking son of Uncle Mo named Laoban took the New York market by storm a few years back, and Name Changer actually has more stakes wins and higher lifetime earnings than that guy had.
What else should breeders know about Name Changer before picking up the phone?
Slezak: We’re heading into the challenging years three and four, and we really want to maintain solid book sizes for Name Changer. If you’ve got a mare with credentials, don’t hesitate to call us — we’ll get creative and make it work.