Former speed queen Betty's Angel – rated Australia's greatest female sprinter of the noughties – has failed to conceive following a frozen semen insemination to Irish stud sensation Spiral Nikita.
Betty's Angel was due to whelp today, but a recent ultrasound revealed she wasn't carrying any “little angels” – a term of endearment for the highly anticipated litter considering each pup would have commanded a $20,000 price tag.
In simple terms, it is thought Betty's Angel's fertilised eggs failed to implant.
Retired veterinary icon Dr Jim Gannon – a former Greyhound Racing Victoria board member – explained that during the nine-week gestation period the corpus luteum forms immediately after the eggs have been shed from the ovary and produces progesterone to maintain the pregnancy.
But if the brood matron's hormone supply is deficient, the corpus luteum can fade and die and the fertilised eggs then resorb, which is nature's way of eradicating them.
The revered veterinarian added that stress and/or infection, where bacteria gains entry at the time of insemination, can also precipitate a similar outcome.
Owner-breeder Diane Bartolo, of Little River, had mixed feelings about Betty's Angel's failure to ‘get in pup'.
“I'm very disappointed but also relieved that she's displayed no ill effects… But I've always said she's more of a career woman than a mum,” she quipped.
Trained by Bartolo's husband Paul, Betty's Angel (November 2004 Brett Lee-Leprechaun Yap) won three Group 1 events – 2007 Perth Cup, 2006 Melbourne Cup and 2006 Sapphire Crown. In all, she contested 13 Group race finals –including seven at Group 1 level.
She also won the 2006 Australian and Victorian Greyhound of the Year gongs.
Dubbed “Beautiful Betty”, Betty's Angel ($436,620) is also third on the all-time stakes list, behind two retired megastars – New South Wales luminary Rapid Journey ($530,995) and Queensland idol Bogie Leigh ($488,335).
She is also a member of a litter that won around $800,000 in stakes, including dual Melbourne Cup finalist Miss Mini Mouse, who was runner-up to Betty's Angel in 2006, and last year's Group 1 Paws of Thunder winner Leprechaun Pace. (Betty's Angel finished third in that event.)
The Bartolos were hoping Betty's Angel would continue the tradition of their foundation dam Leprechaun Miss (dam of Leprechaun Yap), who has been the catalyst of a breeding dynasty.
Leprechaun Miss, who is 13 years old, remains a family pet in the Bartolo household.