07/10/2008 11:00PM

Only thing cheap about Wendoffer was her price


A sly grin crept across trainer Peter Miller’s face when he recalled what Gary Broad paid for the 2-year-old filly Wendoffer in March.

“It was cheap,” he said.

Wendoffer went through the ring at the Barretts March sale of 2-year-olds in training in Pomona earlier this year, but was reported unsold for $15,000. She was consigned by NexStar, agent for breeder Carl VanBurger. After the sale, Broad bought Wendoffer in a private deal, and the filly joined Miller’s stable at San Luis Rey Downs.

By Officer, a California-bred who stands at stud in Kentucky, Wendoffer won her second start, a five-furlong maiden special weight race for 2-year-old statebred fillies at Hollywood Park on June 22. Wendoffer is scheduled to make her stakes debut in Friday’s $125,000 California Thoroughbred Breeders Association Stakes at Del Mar.

The purse of that race is about the most expensive thing involving Wendoffer’s recent past. Miller would not disclose her sale price.

The filly caught Miller’s eye as a prospect at the sale.

“She had a nice way of moving,” he said. “I thought she had a good turn of foot.”

While Wendoffer worked quickly in a presale breeze – a furlong in 10.40 seconds – she seemed within herself, Miller said.

“I don’t like it when they go too fast,” he said. “She’s got a good mind, which is key. She’s a very sensible filly.”

Wendoffer made her debut at Hollywood Park on May 21, finishing third against statebreds. In the June 22 race, she dueled for the lead, took over in early stretch and won by 1 1/2 lengths, finishing in 58.40 seconds. The CTBA Stakes is run over 5 1/2 furlongs.

Her sire, Officer, by Bertrando, stands for $35,000 at Taylor Made Stallions in Nicholasville, Ky. Officer won 6 of 9 starts and $804,090 racing as a 2- and 3-year-old in 2001 and 2002. He won five stakes, including the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes.

Wendoffer is out of Back to Rack, a Private Terms mare who was briefly owned by VanBurger of Apple Valley, Calif. VanBurger, who bred horses for a only few years, operated Clear View Farms in Apple Valley. He bought Back to Rack when she was owned by a friend.

“I liked her, and bought her and her baby by Indian Charlie,” he said.

VanBurger later sold the Indian Charlie offspring, a gelding named Indian Man, for $35,000 at the Barretts May sale of 2-year-olds in training in 2006.

Back to Rack was in Kentucky when VanBurger bought her. She was sent to California, foaled Wendoffer in this state, and was bred back to the California-based stallion Sea of Secrets, which allowed Wendoffer to be registered as a California-bred even though she is by a Kentucky-based stallion.

Last fall, VanBurger sold Back to Rack in foal to Sea of Secrets for a mere $4,500 at the 2007 Barretts October mixed sale, through the NexStar consignment, to Robert T. White of British Columbia.

“I didn’t want to be in the breeding business anymore,” he said.

While VanBurger no longer breeds, he remains active in racing, having owned such stakes winners as Star Over the Bay and Texcess. At the upcoming Del Mar meeting, he is looking forward to racing Sensational Score, who may also start in the Claiming Crown at Canterbury Park on Aug. 2.

A 35-year veteran of racing, VanBurger said he is happier as an owner than as a breeder. The breeder awards are a fine consolation to no longer owning the filly.

“I hope they do well,” he said. “I think she’ll amount to something.”