03/17/2004 1:00AM

Derby Update

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WHO'S HOT

Friends Lake and Preachinatthebar, who won the two biggest stakes races last weekend, are newcomers to this week's top 25 of Derby Watch. Friends Lake, the upset winner of the Florida Derby, is 30-1 on the future line set by Mike Watchmaker, Daily Racing Form's national handicapper. Watchmaker was more impressed by Preachinatthebar's victory in the San Felipe. He made that colt 15-1. The Cliff's Edge, 40-1 last week, is now 25-1 following his third-place finish in the Florida Derby.

WHO'S NOT

Both Minister Eric and Tapit were dropped from the top 25. Minister Eric was third in a downhill turf sprint against allowance runners at Santa Anita on Saturday. Tapit faded to finish sixth in the Florida Derby, and emerged with mucus in his lungs. Read the Footnotes, fourth as the favorite in the Florida Derby, is now 15-1 after being 8-1 a week ago. Watchmaker also raised the priced significantly on Action This Day following his seventh-place finish in the San Felipe. He is now 30-1 after being 12-1 last week.

ON THE BUBBLE

Several potential Derby contenders could emerge from Saturday's three key stakes races - the Gotham at Aqueduct, Lane's End at Turfway Park, and Rebel at Oaklawn. Most notable are Pomeroy in the Gotham, Silver Minister in the Lane's End, and Cryptograph in the Rebel.