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Great Gobbler Gallop: Paycheck hits pay dirt, but Cuero stays optimistic

By by Dianna Wray
Oct. 9, 2010 at 5:09 a.m.
Updated Oct. 10, 2010 at 5:10 a.m.

Cuero race team animal handler Dawn Draper persuades Ruby Begonia to run toward the finish line and away from the crowd as she races her opponent from Minnesota, Paycheck, during the second leg of the Great Gobbler Gallop along Esplanade Street in downtown Cuero on Saturday to kick off Turkeyfest. Ruby lost with a time of 50.23 seconds for a combined time of two minutes and 30.9 seconds. Paycheck finished with a time of 29.3 seconds for an overall of one minute and 6.5 seconds.

CUERO - Ruby Begonia didn't warm up in Worthington, Minn. last month and the change of climate didn't change her running habits at Saturday's Great Gobbler Gallop in Cuero.

The sun was shining and the skies were blue as Cuero's 38th annual turkey race took off at a trot between the rival wild turkeys in downtown Cuero.

Ruby left her pen on Saturday morning feeling hopeful, Cuero team members agreed, but the more than 3,000 spectators gathered for the race were doomed to be disappointed as Paycheck galloped easily to the win.

At the start of the race, both birds were moving in a straight line down the street, before Paycheck veered sharply to the left.

Ruby stayed on her own side of the course, but seemed distracted by her need to greet her fans and well-wishers.

"Ruby has a lot of fans and she knows she has her obligations to them. I think she just got conflicted about her obligations," coach Cory Thamm said.

Ruby ran the second leg of the race in 50.23 seconds, for a final combined time of 2 minutes 30.9 seconds.

Paycheck continued his winning streak, darting up the street in 29.3 seconds, finishing with a combined time of 1 minute, 6.5 seconds.

No penalties were assessed for either team.

Despite Ruby's loss, the crowd was still cheerful.

"We'll get it back next year," Cuero resident Cathy Cisneros said, grinning. "Besides, I have my suspicions. They ought to have Paycheck tested for steroids."

Members of the Worthington team promptly denied the allegations, stating Paycheck had been tested and performed without any chemical enhancements.

Miss Cuero royalty had smiles fixed on their faces as they climbed the stage to do their duty - kiss the winning turkey.

The Cuero Turkeyfest Parade immediately followed the race before crowds headed over to the city park and rest of Turkeyfest, where the sound of live music and the smell of roasted turkey legs filled the air.

Retired teacher Precelia Brown has attended every Turkeyfest for the past 37 years because, win or lose, she loves the event.

"It's just wonderful. The whole community gets out here and you see people you haven't seen in years. It's just a great event," Brown said.

Turkeyfest board member Erik McCowan said they appreciate the event because it's a way of remembering the town's history.

"You know, 100 years ago we used to be one of the biggest turkey producers in the world. We aren't anymore, but this is a way of remembering where we came from and keeping our history alive," McCowan said.



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