Art collectors are quickly snapping up paintings created by a former racing horse, with some aficionados comparing the works to those of famous abstract expressionists.

The horse artist phenom is Metro Meteor. Before bad knees ended his career on the track, he was considered to be one of the fastest turf sprinters at Belmont and Saratoga. He won eight races and $300,000 in purse money.

Now he’s retired and into painting.

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Journalist A.J. Willingham of HLN TV wrote, “If one were an art critic, they might say Metro’s paintings are ‘bold and abstractionist, with hints of Jasper Johns and, of course, a procedural homage to Pollock.’”

Arts and crafts activities are commonly used as enrichment in zoos and other facilities. Sometimes there isn’t much creativity involved, as when paint is put on the bottom of a hissing cockroach before it scuttles across a page.

Other animals, however, seem to focus on their craft.

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Owners Ron and Wendy Krajewski inspired the activity. Ron is an artist, and wondered if racetrack-retired Metro could learn to paint.

He describes what happened next:

“The first thing was to teach him to target the canvas. Every time he would touch the canvas with his nose, I would reward him with a treat. Then came the brush. I would hand him the brush, and every time he would hold it in his mouth, I would take it from him and reward him with a treat. Now came the test. I didn’t have a back up plan if he didn’t paint once I put the two together. But luckily when faced with a canvas and brush in his mouth, he learned to stroke the canvas all on his own.

After he created his first painting, I was surprised at how good it actually looked. Maybe we could sell these and the money could defray the cost of his rising medical bills. Maybe even search out alternative treatments to head off his detrimental bone growth. When his first 2 paintings sold rather quickly, and Metro got a front-page article in the local newspaper, the big picture became clear. Besides helping himself, Metro can also help other racehorses in need of loving homes.”

Money earned from Metro’s paintings now goes to help the New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program. Founded in 1992, the program offers retired racehorses a safe haven, rehabilitation and continued education through placement in experienced, caring homes.