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Paycheck and Ruby Begonia prepare to gobble it out on race day

Brian Korthals/Daily Globe The Worthington and Cuero turkey race team members (from left) Jami Cummings, Greg Nemec, Mike Fury, Linda Nemec, Amanda Walljasper, Clayton Lantz, Pete Suby and Richard Weber pose with Ruby Begonia after arriving in Worthington Thursday afternoon. Paycheck will defend the title in the Great Gobbler Gallop, scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

WORTHINGTON -- The Worthington and Cuero, Texas, 2012 Great Gobbler Gallop turkey race teams have dished out enough trash talk to fill both states, with extra portions to gobble down until Thanksgiving.

Worthington's racing turkey, Paycheck, has been crossing her claws hoping the colder climate will affect Cuero's Ruby Begonia's performance.

"That's part of our strategy," Paycheck's coach, Pete Suby, said. "Bring her up in the cold weather and maybe she won't react the same way as she does down there."

Ruby's coach, Greg Nemec, said she won't quiver from the Minnesota chill.

"We've actually been keeping Ruby in a big walk-in cooler for about three months, so the cold weather will probably affect y'all more than us," Nemec quipped.

Changes for the team down south include bringing in a Ford Motor Co. representative as a handler.

"His intelligence on the racing industry has brought a lot of speed to our program, so I think Paycheck's got a lot to worry about," Nemec said. "Last year, y'all kind of pulled a fast one with the basketball coach on the team, so we went above and beyond with a racing person to help us out this year."

Suby said the hometown team is sticking with a similar strategy as last year, since Paycheck's win almost set a speed record.

"She ran straight down the road last year and we're hoping for the same result," Suby said.

Nemec said because he's an agriculture teacher, Ruby has a turkey leg up on the competition.

"I have ways of communicating telepathically with birds and making them do what they need to do in order to beat Paycheck," Nemec boasted.

Both teams said they have secret tactics not to be revealed until race day.

"We'll just say that we got some tricks up our sleeves," Nemec said. "We plan to come up there and run a fair race, but we will win this year."

Suby is just as confident.

"As fast as this bird is I'm just hoping to keep up with her," he said. "If she goes like she did last year, we won't have to hardly touch her."

While this may not be an "official" Olympic sport, yet, the preparations are just as strict.

"She's been running really well in trials and we've had her on a high protein, non-steroidal feed," Nemec said. "So, any drug tests that want to be conducted will come through clean."

Suby said Paycheck has been roaming free in the wild, eating all the bugs her turkey heart desires.

"That really made her a darker, prettier bird and gave her a lot more energy," Suby said.

The race team has been meeting once a week for about four months to prepare for the showdown, Suby said. Of course, the team wardrobe is as important as Paycheck's training.

"We basically get together and figure out what kind of clothes we're gonna wear," Suby said.

While neither team would dish out fashion details, they both said it's going to be a beak of a good time.

"Win or lose with this race, just knowing that the great people from Worthington and the great people from Cuero get together and enjoy the fellowship of each other; that's the best part of this whole thing," Nemec said.

Team Paycheck put all feathers aside and agreed.

"We have a wonderful time with them," Suby said. "It's all about getting together, meeting people and having a little fun."

Now that kind of camaraderie is something any turkey can gobble about.

Daily Globe Reporter Kayla Strayer may be reached at 376-7322.