Sweetness And LightSweetness And Light The Score On Sports With Frank Deford

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Now, some may very occasionally accuse our commentator Frank Deford of getting on a high horse. But today, it's more of a hobby horse Frank is interested in. To be clear: A horse with a hobby.

FRANK DEFORD: There are so many Thanksgiving stories. This is a Thanksgiving story about a horse. Well, actually a horse artist. Now, I don't mean an artist who paints horses, like Degas or Remington, but a horse who paints and thereby also raises money for less fortunate horses. Really?

Metro Meteor was a well-bred thoroughbred, foaled in 2003, who specialized in sprints on the turf. He competed at the top tracks, like Belmont and Saratoga, earning just short of $300,000 in purses. He was born with a knee condition however, and he needed surgery twice to remove bone chips. But each time he came back a winner. But his knees did him in and he ended up losing cheap claiming races at a minor-league track named Penn National.

At last, the track vet wouldn't let Metro Meteor back into the starting gate. And gelded, he couldn't stand at stud. And like a lot of broken-down thoroughbreds, Metro Meteor could have simply ended up as horsemeat.

But Ron Krajewski, an artist who lives in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and his wife, Wendy, adopted him. Soon, though, the Krajewskis found that the horse's knees were so bad they couldn't even mount him to ride trails. Worse, a vet told them that Metro Meteor's condition was terminal - he had two years, maybe.

But the Krawjewskis so loved their horse and when Ron noticed that Metro Meteor liked to bob his head up and down, he somehow decided that if he put a brush in his mouth where a bit used to be, and put a canvas in front of him where a finish line used to be, Metro Meteor could, yes, paint.

(LAUGHTER)

DEFORD: And, incredibly, he did. Big, colorful brush strokes. Soon in fact, the horse was the bestselling artist in Gallery 30 in Gettysburg. With half the money from his paintings, the Krajewskis sought to find a way to save Metro Meteor's life. And a young vet, Dr. Kim Brokaw, worked up an experimental treatment that reversed the bone growth - Kim Care. The knees are still a problem but, thankfully, Metro Meteor can at least walk the trails now. And after all, an artiste has to devote more time to his craft.

And the rest of the money that Metro Meteor makes, it goes to the New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program, which helps retired thoroughbreds find homes and, yes, get new careers. How many old horses can give thanks that an equine pal has donated almost $45,000 from the sale of his works to keep them alive and loved?

Now Metro Meteor has also signed a licensing agreement with Dream Green USA. The decorative pillows are my favorites. And as Ron Krajewski says, his artist partner is the unofficial spokes horse for racehorse adoption.

So tomorrow, along with the turkey and stuffing, please pass Metro Meteor his favorite treats, oatmeal cookies and Twizzlers - yes, Twizzlers.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

WERTHEIMER: Frank Deford joins us every Wednesday. And you can watch Metro Meteor painting at NPR.org.

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene.

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Sweetness And LightSweetness And Light The Score On Sports With Frank Deford