WORTHINGTON -- When King Turkey Day promoters advertised Paycheck was still strong, they sure weren't kidding.
Paycheck was downright powerful Saturday afternoon, and Ruby Begonia has some serious running to do next month in the annual competition for the Traveling Trophy of Tumultuous Triumph.
In a dominating performance that was over almost as soon as it began, Paycheck -- Worthington's racing turkey -- literally flew to victory in Heat 1 of the yearly showdown with its friendly Texas rival. Paycheck gobbled up his win in a rapid clucking -- er, clocking -- of 37.25 seconds, while Ruby Begonia timidly traipsed across the 10th Street finish line in a time of 1 minute, 40.67 seconds.
A sprinting showdown between Olympian Usain Bolt and Minnesota Twins slugger Jim Thome may have been a little closer. Then again, Worthington's chilly Saturday afternoon temperatures may have had a little something to do with the result.
"She was just cold, she didn't run," Ruby Begonia's team captain, Jason Rogers, said following the turkey tilt. "In Cuero she'll be alright. She'll be ready to go."
Ruby handler Dawn Draper, meanwhile, blamed the not-so-awesome outcome for the Texans on the hospitality shown by so many celebrating Worthington's King Turkey Day extravaganza.
Will Paycheck and the Minnesota contingent be in for slightly ruder treatment down south this year?
"Paycheck will be the one stopping there," Draper said with a laugh.
Ruby Begonia indeed stopped early on in the race -- just a few steps past the startling line. Paycheck, meanwhile, soared to the lead at the start and essentially cruised down the left sideline to paydirt, alternating pacing and flying toward the finish while along the same side of the street as the Nobles County Government Center.
"I was told to just throw her as far as I could," said Paycheck handler Jesse Teerink, a rookie on the Worthington turkey team that also included newcomer Dianne Schettler and returnees Chris Heinrichs and Tammy Anderson. "I think she knew it was her day."
Plus, with temperatures readings only around the 40-degree mark, Paycheck may have had an additional motivation.
"She knew it was cold, and she wanted to warm up and get back in her cage," added Anderson.
Ruby Begonia may have been shocked by the crisp racing conditions. Following the start between Second and Third avenues, the pride of Cuero stopped near the Main Street Kids store on 10th Street -- perhaps for an outfit her size. By the time Ruby was finished window shopping, Paycheck had already won and electrified the Worthington faithful.
"She was a little frozen this morning and she kind of looked like a Thanksgiving turkey," Schettler said. "But we got her in a blanket ... and we got her warmed up. The Texas bird is still frozen."
Cuero coach Cory Thamm had declared Ruby Begonia "ready and steady" before the race, noting their feathered friend had been preparing in "a climate-controlled room."
Apparently, those conditions didn't simulate those on the 10th Street course enough, and now Paycheck has a lead of more than 1:03 heading into Heat 2 of the Great Gobbler Gallop. Cuero's Turkeyfest is scheduled for Oct. 8-10.