If you’re planning to play the stakes-filled Saturday card at Gulfstream Park, deciphering the first race is going to be important.
After all, the first race—the one-mile Hut Hut Stakes—kicks off a Pick 5 comprised entirely of stakes races for two-year-olds, and since betting on lightly-raced juveniles can be a tricky proposition, it would be nice to start the day with a confident play.
In looking over the field, I think the race boils down to a match race between #2 Miss Mo Mentum and #3 My Favorite Gift. Their records so far couldn’t be much different; whereas My Favorite Girl has only run once, winning an 8.5-furlong maiden race at Gulfstream Park West by a staggering 18 ½ lengths, Miss Mo Mentum already has six starts under her belt, including a maiden win on turf and an easy 3 ¾-length allowance win on dirt at Churchill Downs last time out.
My Favorite Gift’s maiden win and Miss Mo Mentum’s allowance win earned similar speed figures, but my feeling is that Miss Mo Mentum’s effort was superior. Miss Mo Mentum was facing proven winners going a one-turn mile, the same conditions as the Hut Hut Stakes, and rallied strongly into a modest pace to win going away while running the final quarter-mile in a solid :24.71 seconds.
In contrast, My Favorite Gift was facing just five rivals in a maiden race that was rained off the turf course and instead contested over a sloppy, sealed track. Her margin of victory was impressive, but it’s fair to wonder if any of her rivals really cared for the wet track, and she did get away with a perfect trip tracking and then setting slow fractions of :25.05, :51.24, and 1:16.77. Even over a rain-soaked track that was producing slow times, these fractions weren’t quick at all.
Chances are, My Favorite Girl won’t get such an easy lead this time around, not with #4 Bernadetta, #5 Beautiful Wife, and #7 Luzmimi Princess all expected to show speed. A fast pace would surely play in favor of the late-running Miss Mo Mentum, who was under consideration for a run in the Starlet Stakes (gr. I) across the country at Los Alamitos before targeting this race instead.
Taking all of this together, my strategy is simple: Miss Mo Mentum looks like a standout and is the only horse I would use in the Hut Hut Stakes for multi-race wagers like the Pick 5. She might also be a decent win bet if she stays at her 2-1 morning line odds or drifts higher, and I would also consider playing a straight Miss Mo Mentum/My Favorite Gift exacta bet based on the belief that these two fillies are indeed a cut above their competition.
Do you agree that Miss Mo Mentum is the most likely winner?