02/18/2005 12:00AM

Jill's Sky giving her team thrills

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Toby Turrell remembers how he struggled for words the first time his extended family gathered for a memorial to Jill Baedeker, his cousin, who was killed in an automobile accident in 2002.

"I'm not much of a talker," he said.

Turrell, well-known as a private clocker in Southern California, found another way to express his feelings. A few years ago, he named a filly that he owns Jill's Sky.

Last Sunday, in a maiden race on turf for 3-year-old fillies, the California-bred Jill's Sky won her second career start by 3 1/2 lengths.

The victory was a sentimental moment for Turrell and his family, which includes his uncle, Rick Baedeker, who is Jill's father and the president of Hollywood Park.

"It was definitely the highlight of my whole racing career," said Turrell, a clocker for 17 years. "If I ever I wanted to do something in the game and have it happen and have it come true, this was it.

"When I saw this filly running around in a field, the only tribute I could do was to name this filly for [Jill]," he said. "You have so many mixed emotions. They have to make it, they have to be good enough to win. It's all hoping that exactly what happened on Sunday happens. It was everything and more you could have possibly hoped."

Rick Baedeker and his family were on the rail at Hollywood Park last spring when Jill's Sky finished fourth in her career debut. They were at Santa Anita for the win over the weekend.

"In a sense, it was the most gratifying win I've ever been a part of," Baedeker said. "Toby really has his heart and soul into that filly."

Turrell bred Jill's Sky after privately purchasing her dam, Yellow Corn, for $10,000. Turrell was attracted to Yellow Corn as a broodmare prospect because she was by longtime California stallion Moscow Ballet.

"The first horse I became partial to was Moscow Ballet," Turrell said. "I bought [Yellow Corn] specifically to go to Skywalker."

Yellow Corn was bred to Skywalker in Kentucky. When Jill's Sky began training, she impressed her trainer, Jenine Sahadi, even though the filly was "light made and really immature," Turrell said. "What made her special was even though she was like that, she could still work [five furlongs] in 58 seconds in early June," he said. "Jenine said this filly is farther along than you thought."

After finishing fourth last summer, Jill's Sky was turned out with a sore shin. A start on turf was a goal from the start, Sahadi said. "We thought she was a turf horse from the get-go," she said.

Turrell has nominated Jill's Sky for the Kentucky Oaks, but the first goal is an allowance race. There may be a stakes in her future, even if it's not the nation's most prestigious race for 3-year-old fillies.

"She might even be more special than we thought," Turrell said.

Lucky J.H. on conservative path

Lucky J.H., the winner of an allowance race for statebreds over a mile on Thursday, is not on the Triple Crown trail. At least, not yet.

Owner-breeder John Harris and trainer Carla Gaines are taking a conservative route with the colt. Instead of pointing to the nation's major races of the spring, Lucky J.H. is more likely to start in the top races for statebreds this spring - such as the $250,000 Snow Chief Stakes at Hollywood Park on April 24.

"You like to dream," Harris said, letting his thoughts trail off. "He hasn't run his best race yet."

Lucky J.H. is by Cee's Tizzy out of the A.P. Indy mare Lucky C.H. The colt has won 2 of 6 starts. He was third in the California Breeders' Champion Stakes in December.