by Kathleen Adams
Two months after she injured a left leg during a four-furlong workout on the dirt at Churchill Downs, turf superstar Ipi Tombe continues to recover and is slowly making her way back to the racetrack.
Louisville-based trainer Elliott Walden said the African-born mare spent the bulk of the summer at Saratoga Springs, N.Y., being hand-walked.
"She was like an old pony walking around the barn," Walden said. "But she gets excited when you put tack on her. She likes to train."
Now back at Churchill Downs, Walden said Ipi Tombe is about to enter the next phase of her recovery. Later in the week of Sept. 15, the trainer plans to begin jogging her at the track. While Walden is pleased with Ipi Tombe's progress so far, he isn't willing to speculate as to when the mare will be ready to resume normal training.
"I'll decide that by how I feel," Walden said. "She's doing good, and she's right on schedule."
Walden expects to run the 5-year-old Zimbabwean-bred mare at Gulfstream Park early in 2004. "We might go back to Dubai with her as well," he said.
The daughter of Manshood has scored three wins against males, including the $2-million Dubai Duty Free (UAE-I).
Last June, Ipi Tombe made her first start in the United States and also garnered her first win here in the Locust Grove Handicap (gr. III) at Churchill Downs. Owned in partnership by Team Valor and WinStar Farm, her race record stands at 12-2-0 with earnings of $1,529,799.