04/04/2015 2:59PM

Princess Violet gets first graded win in Madison

Coady Photography
Princess Violet and jockey Junior Alvarado win the Grade 1 Madison Stakes by a half-length Saturday.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Princess Violet cut the corner turning for home under Junior Alvarado before outfinishing Stopchargingmaria to post her first graded stakes victory Saturday in the Grade 1, $350,000 Madison Stakes, the first of five straight graded races on the Blue Grass Stakes card at Keeneland.

“I tried to save ground,” said Alvarado, in from New York for the day. “After I got through, I tipped her out, and she was there. She gave me all she had.”

Princess Violet, a bay 4-year-old filly by Officer, returned $11 to win after finishing the seven-furlong distance in 1:22.73 over a fast track.

Princess Violet and Stopchargingmaria raced closely together down the backstretch and through the only turn of the Madison while Lady Sabelia, the surprise 2-1 favorite in a field of six fillies and mares, sped off to an open lead.

As Lady Sabelia began to tire and Sam’s Sister and Wedding Toast edged closer, it was Princess Violet and Stopchargingmaria who had the most momentum, with Princess Violet finding room between rivals to suddenly emerge with a short lead nearing the furlong pole.

Stopchargingmaria, a two-time Grade 1 winner making her first start in more than six months, finished a half-length behind the winner and another 2 1/4 lengths before Clearly Confused, the longest shot in the field at 27-1d. Then came Wedding Toast, Sam’s Sister, and Lady Sabelia.

Bred and owned in New York by Barry Schwartz, Princess Violet was turned over recently to trainer Linda Rice after the filly had been trained for her first nine starts by Mike Hushion, who is suffering from a serious illness.

Before Saturday, the filly had four wins and four seconds, with her most notable efforts being an easy win last fall in the restricted Empire Distaff at Belmont Park and a nose defeat in the Grade 3 Go for Wand at Aqueduct. She was coming off a runner-up finish behind Lady Sabelia in the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie at Laurel Park.

The $2 exacta (6-3) paid $55.40, the $1 trifecta (6-3-5) returned $271.40, and the 10-cent superfecta (6-3-5-2) was worth $85.32.