A 9-year-old thoroughbred with $300,000 in race earnings from wins at Belmont and Saratoga is making an unexpected career move. Due to ongoing knee injuries, he's switching tracks in life and his fresh start is earning him national recognition.
On a beautiful snow-covered farm north of Frederick lives a retired racehorse named Metro Meteor. Bad knees forced his retirement from racing in 2009 and even casual trail rides.
Owner Ron Krajewski searched for something Metro could do to fill his days and found his answer with a little nudge from the horse.
"He would sit there and hang his head out the stall and just bob up and down, up and down," says Krajewski.
The artist took notice.
"It was like, if I could teach him to hold a paintbrush, we could make some paintings together," says Krajewski.
He began training Metro to hold a paintbrush in his mouth and then touch it to a canvas. Within a week, Metro's artistic eye took hold. Each day he gets better.
"When he doesn't have a brush in his mouth, he paws at the ground, he bites at me. When I'm mixing paint he's just like give me the brush, let me do it," says Krajewski.
To offset Metro's soaring medical bills, the Krajewskis' decided to try selling the horse's abstract artwork at Gallery 30 in Gettysburg. One month later, his paintings are being shipped all around the world.
"They're selling even before they hit the gallery walls. We can't keep them in stock. Metro is popular," says Krajewski.
And despite Metro's stubborn and impatient nature, the Krajewski's say he seems to enjoy being back in the paint-speckled spotlight.
"Painting is something I just never had to urge him to do. He just wants that brush, knows what to do with it and he just takes it from there."
Fifty-percent of the sales from Metro's artwork goes to a charity called New Vocations, which helps find homes for former racehorses.