By Alicia Wincze Hughes t @BH_AHughes
Reprinted from the Bloodhorse Daily July 2, 2017

Unchained Melody is going to need a harder question asked of her for her next test. Making  just her fourth start and first attempt at the stakes level, the daughter of Smart Strike was in control at every point of call in the $250,000 Mother Goose Stakes (G2), as she turned back six challengers in gate-to-wire fashion at Belmont Park July 1.

Graded accolades were destined to be handed out for the first time in the 1 1/16-mile test, as none of the seven entrants prevailed at that level prior to Saturday. It didn’t take long to figure out which distaffer that would be.

The Brian Lynch-trained Unchained Melody broke sharply from post 2 under jockey Joel Rosario and had a response for every challenge that tried to come at her during her 1:42.45 tour around Big Sandy. After Spanish Harlem chased the pacesetter through an opening quarter in :23.62, Vexatious tried to mount her own bid three-wide through the half-mile in :46.62.

It was then Lockdown’s turn to take a shot at Unchained Melody, as she surged up from sixth on the far outside coming around the turn. The third-place finisher in the Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) could get no closer than within a couple lengths of the leader, however, as Unchained Melody found more gears in the middle of the lane to cross the wire three lengths in front.

“She’s got such a high cruising speed and there didn’t look like there was going to be a lot of pace in the race, so we hoped she’d get comfortable on the lead,” Lynch said. “Not that those were slow fractions. She cracked out a half in :46, but she’s tough to get by, obviously. ”

“She was enjoying the middle of the track, so I just kept her there where she felt most comfortable,” added Rosario. “I worked her in the morning the other day, so I was able to get a feel for her and she moved very good.”

Bred by Hare Forest Farm, which owns her in partnership with Hidden Brook Farm, Unchained Melody came into the Mother Goose off a two-length win a 1 1/16- mile allowance test at Belmont June 1. She broke her maiden first time out at Gulfstream Park March 19 and came in second going six furlongs at Keeneland in April.

“The (grade 1) Alabama (Aug. 19) would be the next step, I think,” Lynch said. “We’ll give her some time and set her for that. I think she’s certainly stamped her card in that direction today.”

Lockdown held for second, followed by Moana, My Miss Tapit, Vexatious, Lights of Medina, and Spanish Harlem, to complete the order of finish.

Sent off at 2-1 odds, Unchained Melody paid $6.40, $3.50, and $2.90 across the board and improved her earnings to $233,400. She is out of the grade 3-winning Partner’s Hero mare Love Match. BH