(Ancient Rome / Photos by Coady Photography)

From the KY Downs Media Team:

26th running of the $2 million The Mint Millions (G3), 3-year-olds & up, one mile, Includes KTDF of $1,000,000

Winning jockey Jamie Spencer:

“I think he’s pretty adaptable on all types of ground. He’s been running on Polytrack also. I went to ride him at home once, and he was pretty lively on his feet. I was pretty expecting that was how he’d be in the paddock. He went to the post a bit lively. I kept him on the move. He was good once he got in the gates. For an English horse, he broke really fast. But he’s always done that in France.”

(Will this encourage other European horses to come over?) “Being a Kentucky-bred, it allowed him to run for the whole purse. If you came over otherwise, you’re only getting half. So that was a big incentive.”

“Today was the plan, 3-4 months.”

Greg Foley, trainer runner-up Stitched:

“He ran great, that’s the main thing. The horse trained great up to the race. We thought he was going to run good. He went into this race as good as he did the race at Ellis Park, the Wise Dan. He’s a nice horse. His odds — maybe the bettors will start believing him more and more now. He gave us a big thrill today, second is pretty nice for this big a pot, but it would have been nice to win.”

Jockey John Velazquez, third on Smokin’ T:

“I thought I had a great chance to win it until the last sixteenth of a mile. When I did not pass the horse on the inside (Stitched) , that was it. I was laying second the whole way. I waited for the horses to come to me.  I was waiting for the two horses, the European horse (Ancient Rome) and Tyler’s horse (Gaffaliione on the favored Annapolis).  When they come to me, I am going to go. When I looked and saw the European horse, ok, it’s time to go.  I said it’s time to go and there was nothing I could do. I went, but he didn’t. He did run a good race.

“It’s frustrating when you are going so well and you think he is going to go and you ask him and he is going to stay the same way. He did not kick in the way I thought he would. It’s part of the business. The winner is a very decent horse. I am thinking he ran so hard the last time out (winning the Lure by a neck at Saratoga), that maybe he was a little flat today. That is the only excuse I can give him.”

TYLER GAFFALIONE, JOCKEY ON ANNAPOLIS, the BEATEN FAVORITE IN MINT MILLIONS:

“He is a very classy individual, just lacked the acceleration I needed to have. I had to wait. I was following Johnny (Velzaquez, jockey on Smokin’ T). I had to wait a little longer than I wanted to. When a spot opened up I tried to go through it and my horse just wasn’t quick enough. I never got out. Nothing I could do from there.”

JAMIE SPENCER, WINNING JOCKEY ANCIENT ROME:

“Obviously, his back form in France was softer conditions, but he is a War Front and you guys know more about War Front than I do. They go on fast turf. I would prefer if it was a little bit slower but the race went smooth and I knew at halfway when I got outside of Johnny (Velazquez on Smokin’ T) on his quarters I was on a horse that doesn’t need to get stopped so I wanted to get momentum and get going early. He doesn’t have an electric turn of foot so I wanted to commit but not get there too soon. It’s a fine line. It worked out today. Sometimes it doesn’t.”

Spencer said, “(Dr. Jim) Hay, the owner, picked the race out even before he purchased the horse early in the spring. He has had two runs since he came to England, winning this and one in England. He’s a Kentucky bred so it fit well.”

Spencer added, “About four years ago. I had a few places, don’t think for any one reason I know how to ride this track. Every race, I am coming back, saying what can I do different? It’s one of those tracks that you can only ride your horse. If the horse is feeling the track and liking it, it’s easy. If he isn’t handling it, you feel like you are on a merry go round. Momentum is key here.”

DO YOU LIKE IT? Spencer said,  “I do now. I wasn’t happy a half hour ago. I was calling it every name under the sun. It worked out well.”