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Paycheck v. Ruby: Ruby Rallies

Paycheck, Worthington's racing turkey, soars near the crowd during Saturday's second heat of the Great Gobbler Gallop in Cuero, Texas. Temperatures were in the low 50s Saturday morning -- cool for Cuero, but balmy compared to Worthington.

CUERO, Texas -- After the second of two ultra-close races in the 2009 Great Gobbler Gallop, it all came down to a five-second penalty for touching.

Unfortunately for Worthington's Paycheck and his handlers, the penalty gave Cuero's Ruby Begonia the victory Saturday morning and the spoils that go with it -- the Traveling Trophy of Tumultuous Triumph.

Competing in the second stage of the annual Gallop, as part of Cuero's 37th annual Turkeyfest, Paycheck entered the day with a four-second lead as a result of his King Turkey Day win in Worthington. It had been a speedy race in southwest Minnesota, and the same would prove true Saturday in Texas.

"It started off as a great race," Worthington captain Jim Henning said. "Both birds took off like crazy. Halfway through our bird jumped into the crowd, but ran back out. At that point he got passed, but then we got the lead back again."

But, like many athletes, a distraction in the crowd may have proved to be Paycheck's downfall.

"Their cheerleaders were right out on the street ... and they were all dressed in their Gobbler green," explained Henning, adding that Paycheck veered into the throng of bystanders at that point. "That's when we had to go get the bird and it was just a quick, little touch on the bird. That's all it takes (for a penalty)."

Ruby Begonia finished Saturday's race with a time of 31.06 seconds over the two-block course; Paycheck finished in 31.58 without the assessed penalty. The overall times for both the Worthington and Cuero heats were Ruby Begonia 1:10.46 and Paycheck 1:11.75, a difference of 1.29 seconds.

Paul Larson, who along with Tammy Anderson and Jodi Almberg made up the remainder of Worthington's turkey racing team, said that Paycheck ran a great race, but simply ran into great competition.

"It was one of the quickest races ever," Larson said. "The turkeys went right down the road in Worthington and here."

Handlers of the winning Ruby Begonia team were Brittany Garza, Glenn Mutchler, Jason Rogers and Terri Warwas. With the victory, Ruby Begonia cut Paycheck's advantage in the all-time series to 21-16.

In addition to racing turkeys, Team Paycheck also got to take part in such events as chicken judging and grilling showmanship.

"All in all, it's more fun than anything," Henning said.

Ryan McGaughey

I first joined the Daily Globe in April 2001 as sports editor. I later became the news editor in November 2002, and the managing editor in August 2006. I'm originally from New York State, and am married with two children.

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