Promising O’Reilly three-year-old Brutal currently heads the market for the Gr.1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) next month, but he could be withdrawn from the race if he fails to flatter in the Listed Exford Plate (1400m) at Flemington on Saturday.
The Michael, Wayne and John Hawkes-trained colt, who is undefeated in two career starts to date, could instead be kept for the Gr.1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) at Flemington in November if his connections believe he is better suited to the sprint distance.
"I'd think a lot of people would have thought we'd run him in the Danehill (Stakes) over 1200m but we want to see if he runs 1400m because that shapes the rest of our spring and it shapes the autumn," Wayne Hawkes told Racing.com.
“I think he'll run the 1400m no problems but you might look at him and think he's a dead-set pure sprinter and if that is what he is then that won't be such a minus because in this day and age everybody wants speed, speed, speed.
"After the races on Saturday, knowing whether he runs the 1400m or not is going to be a big telling point to us.
"We've got plenty of options but he's got to tell us where he's going on Saturday. Where he wants to go. We'll let him do the talking."
Brutal was purchased by his trainers out of Mapperley Stud’s 2017 New Zealand Bloodstock Premier Yearling Sale draft for $220,000.