In the early summer of 1999 the Ballydoyle team had a juvenile who looked like a potential champion in the making, a colt who had cost $925,000 as a foal. He was 1/3 favourite when taking a six-furlong Curragh maiden by five and a half lengths on his debut in May and 2/7 favourite when following-up with a four and a half length score in the Group 3 Railway Stakes over the same course and distance a month later.
His trainer, Aidan O'Brien, was quoted as calling him “a special sort of colt” and when the Brushwood Stable-bred bay reappeared three months later it was as the 4/11 favourite for the Group 1 National Stakes over a mile on soft ground, also at Irish racing's headquarters.
Bernstein flopped that day, the race was won by subsequent Arc and dual Derby hero Sinndar, and when he ran in the Group 1 2000 Guineas at Newmarket the following spring he was defeated by considerably farther, beating only one home in a big field behind King's Best.
The well-related son of Storm Cat (by Storm Bird) dropped back in trip for a narrow win in the Shergar Cup Sprint over six furlongs at Ascot, was well-beaten in the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes, then narrowly won the Group 3 Concorde Stakes over seven furlongs before running unplaced in a nine-furlong Grade 3 handicap at Churchill Downs.
Bernstein retired to Buck Pond Farm in Kentucky, moved to Castleton Lyons Stud in 2005, shuttled to Argentina, and such was his level of international success that his premature death, aged just 14, was a clear loss. That loss is more keenly felt now as those who were foals at the time of his demise include a pair of stars who have won at the highest level in both Europe and the USA.
The Japanese-born Karakontie won the Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere Grand Criterium as a juvenile, added both the Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Poulains (French 2000 Guineas) and Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Mile at three, and he is in his first season at Gainesway Farm in Kentucky.
The other is 2015 Eclipse Award winner Tepin, the Mark Casse-trained mare who was winning for the fifth time at the highest level when she took the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes (British Champions Series) over a mile on the opening day of Royal Ascot 2016.
She was bred by Craig and Carrie Brogden's Machmer Hall Farm in Paris, KY, she was bought by her owner Robert Masterson for $140,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Yearling Sale, and she has earned in excess of $3.3 million. Her dozen wins include the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Mile, the Grade 1 Just A Game Stakes, the Grade 1 First Lady Stakes and the recent Grade 1 Jenny Wiley Stakes, and her victory in England was her seventh consecutive success. Indeed, since the start of her four-year-old season this remarkable mare has won 10 times and been runner-up twice from a dozen starts. Those defeats were by a nose and by a head.
Tepin is the fourth foal out of an unraced mare called Life Happened (by Stravinsky) and each of her older siblings has been a successful racehorse. Buddha Bop (by Buddha), who was the mare's first foal, won four times and earned over $80,000. Her second, Prime Cut, is a full-brother to Tepin and his wins are complemented by the runners-up spot in the Grade 3 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland and third in the Grade 2 Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park.
Her third foal is the high-class miler Vyjack (by Into Mischief), a millionaire, prolific scorer and winner of the Grade 2 Kelso Handicap, Grade 2 Jerome Stakes and Grade 3 Gotham Stakes. He has been placed in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial Stakes and in the Grade 1 Forego Stakes, and the Bill Mott-trained six-year-old was only beaten by a neck when runner-up in the Grade 3 Red Bank Stakes over a mile at Monmouth Park nine days ago.
The fifth foal is a filly named Azara (by More Than Ready), number six is a three-year-old colt called Taniko (by Gio Ponti), and she had a Harlan's Holiday (by Harlan) colt in 2014, shortly after she was the $750,000 top-priced lot at the opening day of the Keeneland January Sale. She had originally cost the Brogdens just $4,500 at the Keeneland November Sale of 2008.
Life Happened is out of the stakes-placed triple winner Round It Off (by Apalachee) who is also responsible for the dual Grade 3 scorer and prolific stakes winner Disco Rico (by Citidancer). He was a champion sprinter in Maryland, began his stallion career in that state, and he was based in New York when he died at the age of 17. His stakes-winning progeny include At The Disco, La Chica Rica, Pure Disco and Vickis Dancer, a quartet that earned over $2 million between them and a total of 39 races won.
Notching-up big win totals is a common theme with this family.
Round It Off's most notable sibling was Miss Slewpy (by Slewpy), a 14-times scorer whose tally included the 10-furlong Grade 2 Ladies Handicap at Aqueduct and two editions of the nine-furlong Grade 3 Carousel Stakes at Laurel Park, and their dam was the Grade 3-placed triple blacktype winner Capp It Off (by Double Zeus), who won nine of her 18 starts, but died young.
Turn Capp (by Turn To Reason), the stakes-placed fourth dam of Tepin, won 20 of her 44 starts and was just as prolific at stud. Her 14 winning progeny, six of whom earned in excess of $100,000, included another two who won nine times and several others who won six, seven or eight races.
One of her less successful runners compensated at stud. Queen's Crown (by King Emperor) won just once on the track but three of her four foals were winners, one of them scored nine times, and eight-times winner Majesty's Crown (by Magesterial) went on to become the dam of an Eclipse Award winner.
That star was 1997's US champion sprinter Smoke Glacken (by Two Punch) and his 10 wins included the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes, Grade 2 Sapling Stakes and Grade 2 Frank J de Francis Memorial Dash Stakes as well as several Grade 3 events. He spent his stallion career at Gainesway Farm in Kentucky, was pensioned in late 2013 and died earlier this year. His tally of over 60 stakes winning progeny includes the Grade 1 winners Irish Smoke, On Fire Baby and Persistently.
His half-sister Smokey Glacken (by Forestry) also won 10 times, including a Grade 2 handicap, four Grade 3 contests and several listed races, although their Grade 3-placed stakes-winning sister Capote's Crown (by Capote) only won three. The siblings also include the unraced Crouse Mill (by Strike Gold), dam of the Grade 2-placed stakes winner Rouse The Cat (by Sir Cat), and another unraced mare in Crowning Touch (by Thunder Gulch), dam of dual Grade 2 scorer Crown Of Thorns (by Repent). He lost the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Sprint by a nose, went to stud in Florida, his oldest progeny are three-year-olds, and they include a Grade 3-placed stakes winner.
Smoke Glacken and his relations are only distantly connected to Tepin, but there is more than enough in the first few generations of her pedigree to suggest that she could become a notably successful broodmare whenever glittering racing career finally comes to an end.
Before then, of course, there should be plenty more good prizes to be won with her as Tepin is among the outstanding filly milers of recent decades, a roll of honour that includes standouts such as Miesque, Milligram, Sonic Lady, Ridgewood Pearl, Russian Rhythm, Six Perfections, Moonlight Cloud and Goldikova, to name just a few.