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Texas is victorious ... for now

WORTHINGTON -- Considering the weather conditions were warm and muggy during Saturday's Great Gobbler Gallop, the outcome shouldn't have been any big surprise.

WORTHINGTON -- Considering the weather conditions were warm and muggy during Saturday's Great Gobbler Gallop, the outcome shouldn't have been any big surprise.

Ruby Begonia, on an afternoon in which she may have felt like she was back in her native Cuero, Texas, overcame a tentative start and cruised past Worthington's Paycheck to the take the first heat in the annual race for the Traveling Trophy of Tumultuous Triumph. Ruby will take a lead of 1 minute, 9 seconds back home for the Oct. 14 Turkeyfest rematch with Paycheck, who hopes to avoid capturing the Circulating Consolation Cup of Consummate Commiseration.

"It worked out really good today because the weather here was just like in Texas, and she just felt right at home," Cuero race captain Lloyd Copeland said.

Worthington captain Jim Von Holtum admitted Paycheck was tired after the race, but he didn't blame the humidity or temperatures in the low 80s.

"Paycheck had one too many pancakes," said Von Holtum, alluding to the annual King Turkey Day pancake breakfast earlier in the morning. "She was a little bit slow this morning -- maybe it was too much syrup. We'll give her a little bit different diet down in Texas; wafers -- no pancakes, no syrup."

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Early on, it appeared the result would be sweet for the hometown hero.

After a sluggish start where both birds stood still for a few seconds -- perhaps frozen by the capacity crowd that lined the 10th Street course several rows deep -- Paycheck inched ahead. Meanwhile, Ruby's quartet of Copeland, the barefooted Jamie Wright, Phyllis Foulds and Leslie Voelkel, had a brief scare when their turkey took flight near The Dance Academy building before returning to the street after mere moments.

Not long after that, the toast of Texas made her move, passing Paycheck near 10th Street's intersection with Third Avenue and never looking back. The lead for the Cuero team continued to grow as Paycheck came to a somewhat prolonged halt near Top Asian Food.

According to Voelkel, Ruby Begonia may not have won the race if it wasn't for a little bit of hospitality from the host community.

"She (Ruby) tried to turn toward the crowd, but they stopped her," she said. "They definitely helped us."

Larry Iten, who with Von Holtum, Diane Dybevick and Cindy DeGroot comprises Paycheck's race team, also acknowledged hospitality, but on a different level.

"We just wanted to treat (the Cuero team) right while they're here," he said. "They're our guests, and we were just being nice. We've got three weeks to train our bird, and we'll be ready."

Paycheck was ready in the latter stages of Saturday's race, as she slowly closed some ground while Ruby Begonia hesitated a few steps short of the finish line. Ruby, however, crossed harmlessly, while Paycheck -- exhausted at the finish -- nevertheless broke free momentarily before being safely gathered into Von Holtum's arms.

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Including one five-second penalty for an illegal touch, Ruby Begonia's time was 1:05. Paycheck, incurring no penalties, had a time of 2:14. On the wider streets of Cuero where just about anything has been known to happen, Paycheck will have ample opportunity to recover.

"Not a problem at all," Iten said of the time separation. "That's not much time at all. We'll be back."

Ryan McGaughey arrived in Worthington in April 2001 as sports editor of The Daily Globe, and first joined Forum Communications Co. upon his hiring as a sports reporter at The Dickinson (North Dakota) Press in November 1998. McGaughey became news editor in Worthington in November 2002 and editor in August 2006.
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