04/07/2004 11:00PM

Birdstone scratched from Blue Grass

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Birdstone has been scratched from Saturday's Blue Grass Stakes because of a high white blood cell count, Keeneland officials announced Thursday afternoon.

Nick Zito, who trains Birdstone, called Keeneland racing secretary Ben Huffman shortly before 4 p.m. with the development.

Zito could not be reached immediately for comment.

This is the latest setback Zito has suffered this spring with his Kentucky Derby prospects. Another of his 3-year-olds, Eurosilver, was removed from contention for the Derby last week because of an infection in his neck.

Birdstone won the Champagne Stakes last year. He was fifth as the favorite in the Lane's End Stakes last month at Turfway Park. His defection leaves a field of eight in the Blue Grass, headed by Lion Heart.