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Cold turkey: Ruby fails to heat up during Minnesota race

Sept. 18, 2010 at 4:18 a.m.

Cuero race team members, from left, Bobby Phillips, Cory Thamm, Jason Rogers and Dawn Draper urge Ruby on during the Great Gobbler Gallop Saturday in Worthington, Minn.

Ruby Begonia's quest to beat archrival Paycheck is off to a slow start. Literally.

Ruby finished the first leg of the Great Gobler Gallop, at King Turkey Day in Worthington, Minn., 1 minute and 2 seconds behind Paycheck.

The day was cold with blue skies overhead as the race began. About 3,000 people gathered to celebrate the 71st annual race.

Both birds started the race dashing a straight line down the street. Paycheck veered toward the curb on the left side of the street, but kept up a brisk trot, focused on his goal. Ruby started off strong, dashing in a straight line down the street. Then she veered to the right and seemed to lose her focus.

There were no penalties for either team because both birds crossed the finish line without a teammate having to touch them to lead them in the right direction.

Paycheck crossed the finish line first with a time of 39 seconds. Ruby took her time, coming in at 1 minute and 41 seconds.

Coach Cory Thamm said he blamed the cold weather for Ruby's sluggish performance.

"It's about 40 degrees here, and that's really cold. Ruby was just too cold. She needed a blanket and some soup," Thamm said.

After the race, Thamm and team captain Jason Rogers and handlers Dawn Draper and Bobby Phillips comforted Ruby about the race, encouraging her to stay positive. They reminded her she's an athlete, and that Paycheck has really short legs, Thamm said.

"She just couldn't get her blood pumping, but she'll give it her best during Turkeyfest," Thamm said.

Thamm said he thinks the weather will be a shock to Paycheck when the turkey arrives in town for the race scheduled to be at 10:30 a.m. Oct. 8 at the annual Turkeyfest in Cuero.

He's hoping they can recover time as Paycheck is stunned by the heat and humidity of Cuero, Thamm said. The winner isn't declared until the times of both races are combined.

"It should be in the 80s during Turkeyfest. Our weather is a lot warmer than theirs," Thamm said. "Paycheck, he's got some skills. I didn't think he could run that fast, but we're still feeling good about the race. We're not done yet."



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