Willard Clark “Mike” Freeman, who conditioned one of the greatest racemares of all time, died Wednesday at age 84 at Wesley Springs Nursing Home in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. The horseman was also president of the Aiken Training Track for a number of years.

The Thoroughbred trainer was born in Providence, R.I., on Feb. 23, 1929, and was exposed to horses at an early age. The horseman was a steeplechase rider before becoming a Thoroughbred trainer.

Early part of his career

Freeman’s impact in the community was far reaching, and he touched many lives during his time in Aiken.

“It’s very sad to lose another outstanding trainer from the classic era of Thoroughbred racing,” said Lisa Hall, Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum programs supervisor. “The successes of the outstanding horses he trained will ensure that he will always have an important place in the history of Thoroughbred racing. He was a great friend to the Aiken Racing Hall of Fame, and he will be sorely missed.”

The horseman also conditioned Hostage, winner of the 1982 Grade 1 Arkansas Derby; Hodges Bay, the winner of the 1989 Rothmans International and Seneca Handicap and Buckhar, the winner of the Grade 1 Washington D.C. International in 1993.

‘End of an era’