Oscar Dishman, Jr.

Oscar Dishman, Jr., Horse Trainer/Owner/Breeder. 9/14/1923–10/1/2000. African American born in New Zion/Scott County, Kentucky, began working with horses as a child hot walker, then rider. He took a giant leap when he started training racehorses, in 1962, when there were very few African American trainers. He became the leading trainer at River Downs Racetrack, near Cincinnati, Ohio for several years, before he acquired higher quality horses, which he ran at Churchill Downs, Keeneland and Latonia Racetracks; before he took these horses on the circuit: Churchill, Keeneland, Arlington Park and Hialeah. These horses brought fortune and fame by winning such prestigious races as: The Ohio Derby, The Michigan Mile, The Florida Derby, and The Illinois Derby. He even entered one horse into the Kentucky Derby with a Black owner, Black trainer and a Black jockey! However, the horse mysteriously died, a month before the race! Oscar trained several horses that won in excess of $100,000, in one year. Silver Series, Golden Don and Dondugold contributed to his success. Silver Series won over $300,000, in one summer! The money was great, but (I think) his proudest moment was when Golden Don ran 3rd against Secretariat in The Canadian International Championship Race, October 28, 1973, at the Woodbine Race Track in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Not only did Dishman fight for civil rights on the track, but also fought for equal opportunities in education. This horse trainer, with the help of the NAACP, filed a lawsuit against the Scott County Board of Education to desegregate the schools, which occurred in 1956.

Dishman won numerous awards River Down’s’ Winningest Trainer (multiple years). In 1978, Trainer, Wallace Howard, honored him at an awards program, featuring Actor, Louis Gossett, Jr. as the keynote speaker, with media mogul, Ebony Magazine. His rags to riches story was published in Ebony and Jet Magazines. He received the Black Trainer Award for Excellence and Achievement in the Thoroughbred Racing Industry. Although the plaque was dated May 5, 2000; I accepted the award for him, posthumously, during the Fall Meet at Keeneland.