Jim Hilling, widely respected by his peers throughout his 30 years as a trainer, died Tuesday night at Eden Hospital in Castro Valley from pneumonia and other complications. Hilling was 66. His son, David, and longtime companion Kit Conner were at his bedside at the end.
Hilling sent out Show Dancer to a second-place finish behind Miesque in the 1987 Breeders’ Cup Mile at Hollywood Park. He maintained a stable in Northern California from the mid-1970s until his retirement in the summer of 2007. In addition to managing his own horses, Hilling often handled stakes runners that shipped in from Southern California, including those for Hall of Fame trainer Neil Drysdale.
Personally, I knew Hilling to be exceptionally generous with his time and knowledge, as he shared both with groups of newcomers to the sport as a host for Thoroughbred Owners of California seminars and hands-on clinics.
Services for Hilling are pending.