Willard Freeman

Willard Clark "Mike" Freeman, a Thoroughbred trainer who conditioned a number of prominent racehorses, including the multiple champion racemare Shuvee, passed away April 17, 2013 at the Wesley Health Care Center in Saratoga Springs. The horseman was born in Providence, R.I. on Feb. 23, 1929. Freeman was a steeplechase rider before becoming a Thoroughbred trainer. Freeman's career as a Thoroughbred trainer spanned more than a half century, saddling his first winner at the old Narragansett Park in 1952, a filly named Lady Whim. The Thoroughbred trainer conditioned a number of outstanding horses including the stakes winners Parnassus, Gala Performance, Cold Comfort, Show Off, Understudy, Hostage, Hodges Bay and Buckhar. However, Freeman will always be associated with one of Thoroughbred racing's greatest racemares. It was a horse he trained for Mrs. Whitney Stone, Shuvee, a daughter of Nashua, won 15 stakes races, and was named Champion older female in both 1970 and 1971. The mare won consecutive runnings of the two-mile Jockey Club Gold Cup against male horses. Shuvee was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1975. Freeman and his wife Iris owned Chime Bell Farm in Aiken.The horseman is a former president of the Aiken Training Track, and maintained a racing stable in Aiken for many years that is currently occupied by Darley Stable. Mike, when not training race horses, was an avid golfer and longtime member of the Palmetto Golf Club in Aiken. Mike was a member of the Aiken Tennis Club, The Reading Room in Saratoga Springs, NY, Saratoga Golf and Polo Club and the Myopia Hunt Club in Hamilton, MA. He had been a long time member of the Green Boundary Club in Aiken where he loved to play Backgammon. He also enjoyed wood working and making furniture. Mike was an alumnus and generous supporter of St. Mark's School, in Southborough, MA. He is survived by his wife, Iris Winthrop Freeman and son Michael W. Freeman (Jessie) Aiken, SC; brother, Peter B. Freeman (Mary Jean) Providence, RI; nephew Harry B. Freeman III (Susan) Saratoga Springs, NY; niece Tracy Freeman Wells (Christopher) Bokeelia, FL. A Memorial Service will be held at the Aiken Training Track on Saturday, May 4, 2013 at noon. In lieu of flowers donations can be made to New Bolton Center, Kennett Square, PA, the Aiken SPCA or the Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum. Arrangements are under the direction of the William J. Burke & Sons/Bussing & Cunniff Funeral Homes of 628 North Broadway, Saratoga Springs, NY (518-584-5373). Online remembrances may be made at www.burkefuneralhome.com.

Published in The Hamilton Chronicle from Apr. 25 to May 2, 2013