Updated on 09/17/2011 11:05AM

Ipi Tombe out for the year


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - The reportedly minor injury that kept Ipi Tombe out of last Sunday's Grade 1 Diana Handicap at Saratoga now seems likely to send her to the sidelines for the rest of this season.

Reached Wednesday morning in Kentucky, trainer Elliott Walden put an end to the speculation about whether Ipi Tombe would run in the Arlington Million or the Beverly D. here at Arlington Park on Aug. 16. With Ipi Tombe's injured leg showing no sign of improvement this week, Walden said the decision was reached to put the filly away and point for a 2004 campaign.

Ipi Tombe hurt herself at Churchill Downs during a half-mile dirt breeze in mid-July. "She rapped the inside of her leg" between the knee and ankle, Walden said. The injury cost Ipi Tombe a scheduled workout and an appearance in the Diana, but until this week she had been on track for a scheduled start at Arlington.

"She developed a hematoma there," Walden said. "We jogged her a few days and saw it wasn't getting any better. You have to be careful, because there are things around there like the suspensory. I didn't feel like I could breeze her for the Beverly D., and she's not Breeders' Cup eligible, so there's not much to point for. We'll give her 30 days off, try for a couple starts at Gulfstream, then take her back to Dubai."

For a horse with just one race in this country, Ipi Tombe has developed a gigantic reputation. Part of it is based on her obscure origins: Ipi Tombe is a Zimbabwe-bred who just left Africa this past winter, a path rarely traveled by U.S. racehorses. Her original owners, Sunmark Partners, retain a 25 percent share of Ipi Tombe, while two U.S. interests, WinStar Farms and Team Valor, purchased a 75 percent interest in Ipi Tombe this year. WinStar owns 50 percent, Team Valor 25 percent.

But most of the Ipi Tombe hype comes from her grass races early this season in Dubai. Three times she raced at Nad Al Sheba and three times she won, beating males on each occasion. The U.S. racing public got their first real look at Ipi Tombe when she easily won the Grade 1 Dubai Duty Free on the Dubai World Cup undercard, a race widely simulcast in this country.

Ipi Tombe's lone U.S. start came June 28 at Churchill, when she won the Grade 3 Locust Grove by a measured half-length. While the margin of victory wasn't overly impressive, many felt jockey Pat Day had kept Ipi Tombe in hand while winning.

"Obviously we're disappointed," Walden said, "but I feel like she's the best turf filly in the world. At the same time, we feel a real responsibility to the horse. That's the main thing."