You may have heard how Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup races are ultra-competitive, with ample opportunity for longshot winners to steal the show. You may have heard how several favorites drew less-than-ideal post positions, complicating their paths to victory.

But if you want to play favorites, never fear! Three undercard stakes races precede the Breeders’ Cup action on Saturday, and the top betting choices look fierce across the board.

Let’s play all three events on a $100 budget while emphasizing the favorites. If the early stakes produce chalky results, we’ll successfully build our bankroll for the feature events.

Race 1: Perryville S. (10:15 a.m. ET)

#1 Nashville (4-5) pre-entered the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1), but opted for this easier spot instead. The 3-year-old son of Speightstown wired his first two starts by a minimum of 9 3/4 lengths, earning eye-catching Brisnet Speed ratings of 94 and 102, and is a clear standout to prevail in his stakes debut.

We’ll single Nashville in multi-race wagers and play him on top of recent Churchill Downs allowance winner #4 Bango (5-1) in a cold exacta.

  • $20 exacta: 1 with 4
  • $14 double: 1 with 1
  • $6 double: 1 with 3
  • $5 Pick 3: 1 with 1 with 4,7,10 ($15)
  • $2 Pick 3: 1 with 3 with 4,7,10 ($6)

    Total: $61

Race 2: Lafayette S. (10:45 a.m. ET)

#1 Engage (4-1) won the Phoenix (G2) over this track last year before finishing an admirable fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1). The son of Into Mischief has only run once this season, finishing last of five in the Vosburgh (G2) at Belmont Park, but the Lafayette is an easier spot and he’s eligible to improve in his second run of the season for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen.

For the multi-race wagers, we’ll use Engage in equal strength with #3 Absolutely Aidan (10-1), who endured a tough trip when finishing fifth in the 2020 Phoenix five weeks ago. Two starts back, the speedy 4-year-old won the Good Lord S. with a 101 Brisnet Speed rating, indicating he’s fast enough to be competitive in the Lafayette.

  • $5 double: 1 with 4,7,10 ($15)
  • $2 double: 3 with 4,7,10 ($6)

    Total: $21

Race 3: Qatar Fort Springs S. (11:20 a.m. ET)

#7 Merneith (3-1) is favored while shipping in from California for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. The daughter of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah was a sharp allowance winner sprinting 6 furlongs at Santa Anita last month, prevailing by 3 1/4 lengths with a 97 Brisnet Speed rating. She’ll stick to the same distance on Saturday and looms as a logical contender with hot jockey Luis Saez aboard.

But #10 Motivated Seller (4-1) is unbeaten and essentially unchallenged for four-time champion trainer Chad Brown, and Grade 1 winner #4 Wicked Whisper recently bounced back to form with a victory in the 6-furlong Miss Preakness (G3). We’ll box all three in the exacta and use them equally in multi-race wagers.

  • $3 exacta box: 4,7,10 ($18)

Good luck!