11/24/2003 12:00AM

Ipi Tombe's career over

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Ipi Tombe, the African superstar who made just one start after being imported to the United States, has been retired after suffering another training setback, trainer Elliott Walden announced over the weekend at Churchill Downs.

Walden said veterinarian Larry Bramlage recommended that Ipi Tombe, a 5-year-old mare, be taken out of training for 30 days after she began experiencing soreness in a cannon bone and all four ankles. The layoff would have caused Ipi Tombe to miss a return start in the March 27 Dubai Duty Free, so the decision was made to retire her, said Walden.

Ipi Tombe came to prominence last winter when she won three straight races in Dubai, capped by a rousing victory over males in the $2 million Dubai Duty Free. Owned by a partnership of WinStar Farm, Team Valor, and the South African syndicate Sunmark Partners, Ipi Tombe won 12 of 14 starts and earned $1,529,799. Her final race, an easy win in the Grade 3 Locust Grove at Churchill in June, was her only U.S. start.

Ipi Tombe suffered a minor leg injury shortly after the Locust Grove. She was gearing back into racing shape when her latest setback developed.

The partnership plans to sell Ipi Tombe at the 2004 Keeneland November sale.