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Paycheck bounced in Cuero

Members of the Paycheck turkey racing team, in orange, help Paycheck towards the finish line along with members of the Ruby Begonia race team after Ruby had already finished at Turkeyfest Saturday in Cuero, Texas. (Ian Terry/Victorial Advocate)1 / 2
Spectators play with Paycheck after the Saturday race at Turkeyfest in Cuero, Texas. (Ian Terry/Victoria Advocate)2 / 2

CUERO, Texas — The adage “winning isn’t everything” was certainly true Saturday for Paycheck and his handlers.

After all, when the friendships between two communities are as strong as they are, who really cares if the outcome of the Great Gobbler Gallop is less than ideal?

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Phase two of the annual turkey race between Cuero’s Ruby Begonia and Worthington’s Paycheck went Ruby’s way Saturday morning — and just like the showdown in Worthington, it wasn’t terribly close. In fact, Ruby was nearly across the finish line on this city’s Esplanade Avenue before Paycheck had even found much of a stride.

Ruby Begonia completed the race with a penalty-free time of 1 minute, 7 seconds, leaving the Cuero team members plenty of time to help Paycheck get a tail feather or two shaking down the street.

“We had to put her on an all-rest, all-eat regimen after the first race,” explained Paycheck coach Brian Almberg, recalling how Paycheck scurried away from his team during September’s King Turkey Day race and went into the crowd. “We put 12 to 15 pounds of fat on her, and it worked. We took a lot of the Adrian Peterson out of her.”

Paycheck, though, was a little too similar to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, falling too far behind early to even have a chance at changing the eventual outcome. Perhaps it was a result of the warm and muggy conditions to which Ruby is likely more acclimated, but no matter what the reason for the setback, no one from Worthington was complaining.

“I’m just so happy Paycheck made it to the end,” Worthington handler Amanda Walljasper-Tate said. “She hung in there and showed some true dedication, and that’s what it’s all about.”

Dedication is part of what’s sustained the Paycheck-Ruby Begonia battle for the last 41 years. Worthington’s turkey teams, despite failing to secure the Traveling Turkey Trophy of Tumultuous Triumph for the past two years, still holds a 22-19 lead in the series, but that clearly doesn’t matter as much as the bond that’s formed between many residents of the two cities.

That’s why Ruby Begonia’s handlers ran back to aid their Worthington cohorts after securing the win, and their guests were truly thankful.

“We were all on our hands and knees trying to coax her a little bit,” Almberg said, adding, “The fact these two little communities can come together over a turkey race is just great. It’s just awesome, and it’s a great time down here.”

When Paycheck finally crossed the finish line about six-and-a-half minutes after Ruby, the official combined clocking for the two 2013 heats was 13 minutes, 33 seconds — trounced by the Texas turkey’s time of 2 minutes, 25 seconds. The Circulating Consolation Cup of Consummate Commiseration remains north, but so does the connection between competing cities.

“It’s been so much fun to be a part of this,” Walljasper-Tate 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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