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Paycheck takes Texas

coy slavik/cuero record The Worthington Turkey Race Team -- Chris Heinrichs, Diane Schettler (center) and Tammy Anderson -- follows Paycheck, at Turkeyfest's second heat of the Great Gobbler Gallop Saturday in Cuero, Texas.

CUERO, Texas -- Paycheck took the honors at the second heat of the Great Gobbler Gallop Saturday in Cuero, beating the celebrated Texan racing turkey Ruby Begonia by just 21 seconds and bringing home the Traveling Trophy of Tumultuous Triumph.

Worthington is once again the official Turkey Capital of the World -- at least until next year, when Worthington's Paycheck and Cuero's Ruby Begonia will face off again.

"Our bird being highly trained and super-fast -- that's what shaped the outcome," said racing team coach Chris Heinrichs. "Our bird ran a straight line, just like it did in Worthington. The fastest you can run that block is 29 seconds. That bird just never slowed down the whole time."

Paycheck ran the Turkeyfest heat in just 29 seconds, with Ruby Begonia following close behind with a time of 50 seconds.

"They did a lot better, but so did we," Heinrichs said.

Ruby had quite a bit of time to make up Saturday after she balked during the King Turkey Day heat of the race in September, finishing with a 1 minute, 40 second time, compared to Paycheck's lean, mean 37 seconds. The birds' Great Gobbler Gallop overall totals were 1 minute, 6 seconds for Paycheck, and 2 minutes, 30 seconds for Ruby Begonia.

Paycheck's all-time record now stands at 21 wins, with Ruby Begonia trailing behind at 17.

The weather is believed to have had a major impact on the King Turkey Day heat, as the temperature plummeted into the 30s and Ruby Begonia, used to sunnier Texan climes, froze up like a Thanksgiving turkey.

But Paycheck, accustomed to the hot-and-cold swings of Minnesota, had no trouble fielding the 80-degree temperature in Cuero Saturday, and never veered off-course.

"We may send him back to training camp next summer," Heinrichs said. "They asked him to do some teaching. He's going to train other turkeys to race... but we're going to give him the winter off to relax."

The race team -- Dianne Schettler, Tammy Anderson, Jesse Teerink and Heinrichs -- also planned to relax after their victory, returning to their hotel for a good night's sleep after the Turkeyfest celebration was over.

"We thank everybody in Worthington for their support for the whole year, and we brought them home the trophy!" Heinrichs crowed -- or gobbled.