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DECATUR — Twin horses are something rare.

Twin horses who survive, thrive and grow up to be racehorses are even more rare. According to the United States Trotting Association, only 137 pairs of twins have been born in the last 50 years and of those, only 49 pairs made it to racing. Rockin' Jack Sage and Rollin' Jill Sage, owned by Ron and Deloris Phillips of Athens, ran their first race on Saturday at the Macon County Fair. Their trainer is Jamaica Patton.

Trainer Jamaica Patton, left, and Marcus Turner get ready to work with Rockin' Jack Sage as Rollin' Jill Sage comes in from training before the 2021 Harness Racing Program on Saturday during the 165th Macon County Fair. CLAY JACKSON, HERALD & REVIEW

Sunday is the fair's last day, with the Bloody, Blues and Bags Tournament from noon to 3 p.m., registration at 11 a.m.; helicopter rides by Sumerskyz; the demolition derby at 6 p.m.; and the Jackpot Jr. Beef and Swine shows. Admission is $2 and parking is free. 

The twin horses were born May 12, 2019, and at 2 years of age, are just now old enough to race, said Ron Phillips.

“It's really rare to have twins that both of them survive, and more rare yet for both of them to make it to the races,” he said.

Normally, when a mare is pregnant, if she's found to be carrying twins, one of the foals is aborted, he said. Mares just aren't built to have twins. In this case, the twins were born smaller than usual and even now are a little smaller than most horses, but Jill came in third in her first race and the couple were pleased at her performance. She was in second until a horse named Ryan's Shark Attack put on a last-minute burst of speed and came from behind to win. Jill's driver was Stephan Halford II. 

Rollin' Jill Sage, left, and twin Rockin' Jack Sage rest before the start of the 2021 Harness Racing Program on Saturday during the 165th Macon County Fair. More photos and videos from the fair at CLAY JACKSON, HERALD & REVIEW

All horses who race in Illinois county fairs have to be bred and born in Illinois, Ron Phillips said. Jack and Jill started training when they were yearlings and both were easily trained and responsive.

“They both seem like they've got some desire,” he said. “We're anxious to watch them.”

Trainer Jamaica Patton works with Rollin' Jill Sage, left, and twin Rockin' Jack Sage before the start of the 2021 Harness Racing Program on Saturday during the 165th Macon County Fair.  CLAY JACKSON, HERALD & REVIEW

Male and female horses run in separate races as a rule, unless there aren't enough female horses for a separate race, Phillips said.

On the other side of the fairgrounds, the Trail Riders Association Inc. was holding its events in the East Arena. First up on Saturday morning was the speed competition, where horses and riders do barrel races and pole-bending, both timed events where speed is as important as performance.

The afternoon event was the Pleasure Show.

“That's where they get all dressed up in their gear and their horses are judged,” said Donnie Drake, president of the local chapter.

Tatum McCutcheon holds her 1-year-old daughter, Journey Eubanks, after winning the 1-year-old division during the baby show on Saturday during the 165th Macon County Fair. Both are from Decatur.  CLAY JACKSON, HERALD & REVIEW

The Trail Riders include hundreds of members, he said, with about 100 of them represented at the fair on Saturday. It's the oldest saddle club in Illinois.

Sarah Goddard sat aboard her horse, Bea, short for Ota B. Good, her registered name. Bea is 11 and was recently cleared by the vet to return to competition after an injury, Goddard said. They competed in the speed trials in the morning and were getting ready for the pleasure class competition.

Sarah Goddard and her horse, Bea, competed in the Trail Riders Association events at the Macon County Fair on Saturday.  Valerie Wells

Goddard learned to ride as a child at Shiloh Stables and when she decided she wanted to compete, bought Bea, who is boarded in Moweaqua.


“I was just riding around for fun,” Goddard said. “Then I got interested in barrel racing because I wanted to be competitive. When I was about 14 or 15, I started barrel racing and I actually haven't competed in quite a while, so today I did poles and we had a nice clean run, and I'm going to be doing open barrels. There's three barrels and you go in a cloverleaf pattern.”

“It's a good group of people,” Drake said. “We just like to promote horseback riding and showing and things like that. We're out here to have fun.”

Contact Valerie Wells at (217) 421-7982. Follow her on Twitter: @modgirlreporter