06/16/2008 12:00AM

Three from Dixie meet in Rodney prep

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Three horses who last ran in the Grade 2 Dixie Stakes at Pimlico a month ago, including the runner-up, Stay Close, will tune up in Wednesday's $55,000 Eight Thirty Stakes at Delaware Park for a possible start in the track's biggest turf event for older males.

The Eight Thirty, scheduled for 1 1/8 miles on the grass, is the last local prep for the $200,000 Cesar Rodney, a nine-furlong turf race on the Delaware Handicap undercard on July 13.

Stay Close, who drew poorly in post 11 for a race that starts out of a chute, is following a familiar path with his June prep at Delaware. He followed up his eighth-place finish in the 2007 Dixie by winning an allowance at Delaware, but passed up the Rodney to travel to Woodbine, where he finished fifth of seven in the Grade 2 King Edward Breeders' Cup.

This year, the 6-year-old Stay Close has already won 2 of 4 starts, including the Henry Clark at Pimlico. Rosie Napravnik, who was aboard for his win in the Clark and his second behind Pays to Dream in the Dixie, retains the mount for trainer Michael Zwiesler.

Salinja, third in this same stakes a year ago, was up close throughout a slow six furlongs in 1:16.24 before fading badly to finish last in the Dixie. He has since worked well twice at the Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland for trainer Graham Motion, who is 7 for his last 28 at Delaware with turf horses returning from a brief freshening.

Headsandtales, seventh in the Dixie and third, beaten 3 1/4 lengths by Stay Close, in the Clark, will be making the third start of his current form cycle. His trainer, Robin Graham, is 3 for 15 in that category, including 2 for 2 with Headsandtales.

The field also includes Dreadnaught, an 8-year-old winner of nearly $700,000 who will make the unusual switch from winning a maiden steeplechase event going 2 1/4 miles back to the flat, and Diamond Fever, whose 3-for-3 record over the course was spoiled when he finished third in his first start since November in the $75,000 Sussex on May 28.