01/04/2005 12:00AM

Sylvia Bishop, trainer, dies


Sylvia Bishop, the first female African-American licensed to train Thoroughbreds in the United States, died Dec. 27 in Ranson, W.Va., following a brief illness. She was 84.

Bishop obtained her trainer's license in 1954 and trained a small string of horses at Charles Town until severe arthritis forced her to retire in April 2000. In addition to Charles Town, she raced at the Maryland fairs, including Cumberland, where she once was leading trainer at a 10-day meet.

In her best season, 1961, Bishop's horses won 25 races. Her top horse that year, Bright Gem, won 6 of 13 starts, including the lone stakes victory of Bishop's career, the Iron Horse Mile at Shenandoah Downs.

Bishop is survived by a daughter, three sisters, three grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.