GETTYSBURG -- A retired racehorse, once considered one of the best turf sprinters in the East, is now an artist.
Metro, a 9-year-old thoroughbred, started painting with his owner, Gettysburg artist Ron Krajewski, a few weeks ago and has already completed three paintings and sold one, using his mouth to grasp the paintbrush.
As soon as he steps inside his studio, a stall at Motters Station Stables in Rocky Ridge, Md., the beautiful bay pounces on the canvas with large bold strokes.
At times, he seems impatient as Krajewski loads the brush with paint, even bending down trying to get it back.
Although his owner chooses the color and loads the brush, Metro knows what he's about and makes the creation his own.
He paints about 30 minutes a day. His paintings are done in layers and each takes about two to four days to complete, allowing for drying time.
"He really seems to love this," said Krajewski, adding that Metro has been known to step back and look at the canvas, with brush in mouth, as if to survey his progress.
He nibbles on kibbles treats while he's working, but the artist prefers Fig Newtons.
"This is the most fun I think I've ever had as an artist," said Krajewski, who specializes in pet portraits. "I have no control, except the colors, and I don't have to think. Metro does all the work."
Stable owner Ed O'Neill said his boarder is quite the character, dubbing him "Monet Metro."
Metro's first painting, "Blue Highway" was a small 11-by-14 that sold for $150 online within an hour of being listed.
His other two paintings, "Jump into the Fire" and "Caramel Sundae," both 20-by-20, are hanging at Gallery 30 in Gettysburg. They are priced around $300 and creating local interest.
"People have been commenting on Metro's paintings," said Peggy Rock, gallery manager. "I think the art of this retired thoroughbred is fantastic."
Metro is currently working on an abstract series of retired racehorses. "Secretariat" will have the blue and white racing colors of the Triple Crown winner with a bit of chestnut brown to represent the horse, while "Zenyatta" will have the teal and pink colors of the former queen of racing.
In his heyday, Metro Meteor, as he was known, raced mostly out of Saratoga and Belmont, earning $300,000 before bad knees ended his racing career.
Krajewski and his wife, Wendy, adopted him off the track in 2009, knowing he had knee issues and not knowing whether he was going to be rideable again.
The Krajewskis acquired a quarterhorse, Hot Shot, to do the things they can no longer do with Metro, such as trail riding.
"Metro is only nine years old, but has the body of a 25-year-old," said Ron Krajewski, noting that they've tried to make his life more comfortable with joint supplements, injections and special shoes to deal with bone chips and arthritis.
Rather than just standing in a pasture looking pretty for the remainder of his life, Ron taught him how to hold a paintbrush and Metro embarked on a new career as an equine artist.
It's a far better life than most retired racehorses, said Wendy Krajewski.
"These beautiful horses give so much on the track and who knows where they end up, probably at slaughter," she said. "Metro deserves a good home and people who love him and if he wants to paint, that's great!"
When he's not creating art or taking walks, Metro can usually be found with his buddy, Pork Chop, the Krajewskis' other retired racehorse who earned less than $300 over his entire racing career.
"He (Pork Chop) learned to run slow and save his knees," laughed Ron Krajewski.
Metro's paintings will not only help pay for some of his vet bills (his owners are still looking for alternative treatments to prolong his knees) but they might also be used to help other retired racehorses.