Griffiths keeps options open with talented Verdad

The 2500 metres of the Victoria Derby was too much for Verdad in his initial racing preparation, but his trainer Robbie Griffiths has not written him off as a stayer.

All options are on the table for the son of Justify next campaign, including the three Group 1 Derbys in the second half of the season.

“He didn’t stay the distance in the Derby in the spring, but Jye McNeil thought it was more because he wouldn’t relax,” Griffiths said.

“Whether the experience of having a racing campaign allows him to stay, we’ll see, otherwise we might just be keeping him at the 1600-metre mark.”

Verdad announced himself one of Victoria’s most promising three-year-olds in spring, which started with a 3-3/4-length Bendigo maiden win, included Group 2 second placings in the Stutt Stakes (1600m) and Moonee Valley Vase (2040m) en route to the Derby, in which he finished a 7-3/4-length fifth.

The gelding had three weeks in the paddock after the Derby before entering light work and he has been back in the Cranbourne stable Griffiths operates with Mathew De Kock since mid-December.

Griffiths’ plan is for Verdad to resume in the Group 3 Manfred Stakes (1300m) at Caulfield on January 26 before progressing to the Group 2 Autumn Stakes (1400m) at the same track on February 10 ahead of tackling the $1 million Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington on March 2.

“After that we’ll see how he’s racing and whether it’s a seven-day back up into the Randwick Guineas and stay on the mile pathway – whether that be the Doncaster Prelude into the Doncaster – or stretch him out in distance and head to Sydney to go towards the Rosehill Guineas into the AJC Derby,” he said.

“But he’s a stronger version of what you saw in the spring.

“We’re very happy with him and we think once we increase his work we’ll hopefully see a faster horse than we saw in the spring, which was quite an exciting horse.”

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