Champion Ipi Tombe Readies for North American Debut

(Edited Churchill Downs release)

South African champion Ipi Tombe took another step toward her North American racing debut with a solid four-furlong workout over the main track Thursday at Churchill Downs.

The 5-year-old daughter of Manshood, who defeated males in the $2 million Dubai Duty Free at Nad Al Sheba in March, had been scheduled to work on the turf -- but trainer Elliott Walden ad-libbed when turf training was canceled because of wet course conditions. She competed the half-mile over a "fast" main track in :49. Louise Hatfield was in the saddle for the work, which was the sixth fastest of 49 moves at the distance.

"She went well," said Walden. "She's extremely impressive. She's very classy. She's doing everything very easily and I'm very pleased with her."

Ipi Tombe, who is now owned by a partnership that includes Team Valor, WinStar Farm, and Horizon Stable, has won 11 of 13 career races and earned $1,427,871, is now just weeks away from her U.S. debut. Walden said he would look for a race somewhere around July 4. He mentioned the $150,000-added Locust Grove (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs on June 28, the $250,000 New York Handicap (gr. IIT) at Belmont on July 4, and the $150,000 Dance Smartly (Can-III) at Woodbine on July 5 as possible spots for her return to racing.

Ipi Tombe is unbeaten in three starts this season and has won seven consecutive races.