Well, not to be outdone by Dana or Ray Paulick’s New Back Pocket Boy, I scored my own interview with a high profile individual associated with horse racing: The guy from the Claritin commercial.
When the Claritin commercial first aired last year, it caught the attention of horseplayers: Horse racing in Santa Anita on mainstream television? Real horses? A real jockey?? Who is that guy, anyway??
Kevin Mangold is the actor who is the Claritin jockey in the commercial. He looks pretty convincing on a horse, huh? Well, as it turns out he is also a jockey. Apparently, he found himself consistently being cast as kids or elves or jockeys or munchkins or smurfs or some other diminutive character. Frustrated, he opted to take a hiatus from the lucrative world of Hollywood and embark on an odyssey to become a jockey because “he’s short.” I should mention that he was 35-years-old at the time when he opted to break into the world of thoroughbred racing.
I contacted Kevin Mangold – a true Renaissance Man. Besides acting and riding, he's written books and screenplays, and has a production company just in case he has nothing better to do. He graciously agreed to an interview for Post Parade:
Sue: You have indicated that you first started riding at age 35. Had you ever even been on a horse before?
Kevin Mangold: No, not really. I had walked on an old quarter horse (Dutch). I used to climb up a fence to get on him and then he would walk around the pasture while I laid on his back. That's probably why I never even considered to be afraid of horses. As a kid, I had ridden a pony. There's a picture of it on my web site. His name was Harry.
S: Are you still actively riding (other than in the Claritin commercial)?
KM: Right this moment, no, but I haven't made any decisions about that yet. I have enough going on to keep me busy right now, but I have a serious horse jones going on. I can't go much longer without riding. I might have to buy my own.
S: What was the name of the very first horse you raced? In what type of race? Where did he finish?
KM: I believe it was Quick Twist [at Yavapai Downs on July 22, 2001] and he won. But my number was taken down because I bumped another horse. The other rider stood up in the irons and put on a whole show, but the replay showed that I barely came over. He wasn't going to win anyway. I came back and won with the same horse the following week. I was painted (the ritual when a jock wins his first race) twice in one week. After they painted me the first time, the objection was upheld and my number came down.
S: What was the name of the horse in your first win?
KM: Quick Twist.
S: What was the name of the horse in the Claritin commercial? And was he also cast by Megan Foley Casting?
KM: There were a few. No, they were cast by trainer Matt Chew. He usually does the film things. He's got real well behaved horses and he's been around long enough to know what he's doing on a set.
S: Regarding being a jockey, you wrote [on your website in a response to a question], "It's dangerous. Every jockey I know has had a serious injury." Have you ever had a serious racing injury?
KM: I've had so many. I was unconscious for fifteen hours once. I broke my back in three places, my leg, my ankle twice. I've been in quite a few spills but I have been very lucky so far.
S: I enjoyed your slideshow on your website. When you are standing next to Chris McCarron at Hollywood Park, you do indeed look like a young Chris McCarron as one individual posted in a sports forum. You also have a picture of you galloping next to Gary Stevens. Did you give him any acting pointers?
KM: No, I never did. Maybe he could give me some. Gary is a great guy. I would love to see him act again.
S: Speaking of acting, you recently starred with the renowned Angela Lansbury in the movie, Mrs. Santa Claus. Do you know if she enjoys horse racing? And what would you say was her best role, "Mrs. Santa Claus", "Jessica Fletcher" of Murder, She Wrote, or "Mrs. Potts" in Beauty and the Beast?
KM: I have no idea. I did that movie (Mrs. Claus) before I was a jockey. She was probably best in her live theatre days long before she ever did Murder She Wrote or any other television. I hardly spoke to her - rather she hardly spoke to us - but also on the show was (the late) Michael Jeter - one of the best people I've ever met. I miss him.
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Since our interview, Kevin Mangold has popped up in another commercial and has been involved as a stunt double. No word as to when, or if, he returns to the saddle.