By the time this weekend ends, the Breeders Cup picture will have some much needed clarity.

Theres another round of preps next weekend, too, some from Europe as wellthink theres something called the Prix de lArc de Triomphe on the horizon.

But the issue of favoritism in some of the mega categories will have been established, including that for Horse of the Year.

No less than five Grade 1s are on tap Sunday, four in one place, Belmont Park, and the other at Santa Anita, featuring juvenile colts in the Norfolk.

Too early to tell, of course, but it looks like California has some catching up to do in this category. But they usually do by the first Saturday in May which is, of course, when the scores can really change for the present two-year-old class.

But I digress.

The $400,000 guaranteed Pick Four at Belmont starts with the Vosburgh and ends with the Jockey Club Gold Cup, with the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic and Beldame in between.

Throw in the Miss Grillo, for juvenile fillies on turf, and you have great Sunday fare. Time-wise, Belmonts 11-race card will get you almost all the way to the Norfolk.

The Vosburgh, of course, features the return of Discreet Cat from a six-month layoff. Trainer Rick Mettee said this week that he wished the race were a little farther, six and half or seven furlongs, and perhaps the competition a little softer.

But, as goodfella Jimmy Conway reminds us: It is what it is.

What it was was a horse capable of winning the Cigar Mile on this circuit by running eight furlongs in 1:32 2/5. To say this kind of brilliance is uncommon would be to seriously understate the case.

Discreet Cat is (was?) something else. Where he is now, exactly, is the question.

A very sharp race likely will put him in the Sprint. Something less probably relegates him to the new Breeders Cup Dirt Mile (a mile and 70 yard two-turner due to the Monmouth configuration). But first theres the matter of handling late developing three-year-old First Defence and his Vosburgh friends.

Todd Pletchers English Channel will try to become the third horse to win the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic twice. In relative terms, this renewal comes up a tad soft. English Channel is 1-for-5 at a mile and half, but perhaps his preference for Belmont--never worse than second in three Grade 1s--will prove an equalizer.

The Beldame, the third of four weight-for-age events, gets recent Ruffian winner Ginger Punch, which is somewhat of a bonus. Bobby Frankel doesnt normally run them back on relatively short rest. But hes trying to take while he thinks the takings good.

If Ginger Punch runs too well tomorrow, dont plan on seeing her at Monmouth. A victory would be her third Grade 1 this year, probably good enough for an Eclipse Award. Maybe West Coaster Balance will have something to say about that. She finally gets off the artificial and onto real dirt again.

As the publicists remind us, Lawyer Ron went into Saratoga a nice horse and emerged as protem handicap champion. But if he wants to win it all hell need to run the table; beating Curlin tomorrow and everyone else in the Classic.

This brings us to that three-year-old. Which one shows up, the Preakness hero or the dull Haskell third? Assistant trainer Scott Blasi said this week the colts much sharper now than before the Haskell. Good thing, if he wants to be competitive.

Finally, a gateful of two-year-olds will compete in the Norfolk. Six are coming straight from maiden races. But two, Salute the Sarge and Dixie Chatter, look like viable Juvenile colts. Sarge won the G3 Hollywood Juvenile Championship, G2 Best Pal and was narrowly beaten in the G1 Del Mar Futurity.

Chatter made a wide premature move to the lead in the stretch at Del Mar, but couldnt sustain that run. With Richard Mandella as teacher, however, expect improvement today and the time after that.

Happy hunting.