Nick Martinez, a retired jockey turned equine artist, hopes to paint a brighter picture for those who have suffered in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
Martinez, who has been painting professionally for 12 years, is selling limited edition prints of his 2005 Ruffian painting to benefit hurricane relief efforts.
"Through my art I can give so much more than I could ever give out of my own pocket," the former rider said.
As a jockey, Martinez primarily rode in Chicago and the Midwest circuit, but as an artist he can be seen each year selling his art -- primarily Thoroughbred portraits and racing scenes-- at Saratoga.
He said he will donate 100 % of the profit from the sale of 575 Ruffian prints priced at $100 each to disaster relief efforts. Each print is signed and numbered and comes with a certificate of authenticity.
"There is a need here for these people in Louisiana, and I thought, 'what am I going to do here?'" said Martinez, a Colorado native, who rode with many jockeys from Louisiana during his career in the late 70s and 80s.
Martinez, who also offered a new 2005 Afleet Alex print at Saratoga this year, sold 100 Ruffian prints during the meet and said the remaining prints would have been stored away until next year, but now will go toward helping people who are suffering. He said he has already started selling the prints for charity and will allocate the proceeds to the United Way and the relief effort of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.
"This is my priority right now," Martinez said. I'm going to try to sell every print over the next few months. "This is not going to end in the next year. It's going to take many, many years before people can live a normal life again in New Orleans."
The 2005 limited edition Ruffian prints will be available Oct. 26-29 at the Breeder' Cup marketing tent at this year's Breeders' Cup World Championships at Belmont Park in New York . Or to purchase online visit www.nickmartinezart.com.