Racing Pioneer Sylvia Bishop Featured In New Book

A chance meeting, an exchange of pleasantries in Virginia with a stranger while waiting in line for a cup of coffee, led Vicky Moon on a 15-year journey that has resulted in “Sylvia Rideoutt Bishop Had a Way With Horses.”

The book tells the story of Bishop, a pioneer in sport who became the first Black woman to win a Thoroughbred race as a licensed trainer, according to Moon’s book, while training horses at Laurel Park, Timonium and Charles Town, as well as former tracks Hagerstown Race Course, Shenandoah Downs and Cumberland Race Track.

Moon, an author of several books including the “The Private Passion of Jackie Kennedy Onassis” and “Equestrian Life,” was fortunate to spend time with Bishop before she died in December of 2004.

“After the chance meeting with one of her relatives waiting for coffee, I was able to spend one day a week with her from August of 2004 until December of that year when she passed away,” Moon said. “She knew the impact of what she did, but in a very unassuming way. She would sit on her couch and say, ‘I was the first Black woman to do this.’”

There was probably no one better to tell Bishop’s story than Moon, who grew up in Fort Lauderdale, learned to ride in nearby Davie, and watched her family’s horses run at Gulfstream Park, Hialeah Park and Calder as a child.

“My mother would let me skip school to go to Hialeah,” recalled Moon, a resident of Fort Lauderdale who spends summers in Virginia.

Moon’s chance encounter in the coffee shop and the time she spent with Bishop led to her 15-year study of Bishop’s life as well as her determination to break stereotypes and segregation in Thoroughbred racing over the past century.

Born in West Virginia, Bishop, one of 17 children, worked as a groom at Charles Town at the age of 14. While many of the horses she trained ran under her husband’s name, she became the first licensed Black woman to train the winner of a Thoroughbred race in the United States on October of 1959 with a horse named Chalkee.

Bishop, who left racing for financial reasons between 1973-1987 to work at Doubleday publishing, trained some horses for Nelson Bunker Hunt as well as Fasig-Tipton President Tyson Gilpin. It was Gilpin’s Bright Gem who afforded Bishop one of her biggest victories, winning the Iron Horse Mile at Shenandoah in 1962. Eddie Arcaro presented the winning trophy and Carl Gambardella was aboard. She returned to training in the 1980s and saddled her last winner in 2000, visiting the Charles Town winner’s circle with Lone Wolf in February of that year.

“Sylvia Rideoutt Bishop Had a Way With Horses” is available as a book and on Kindle at Autographed hardback books are available at

The post Racing Pioneer Sylvia Bishop Featured In New Book appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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