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Ruby Begonia hopes to hold lead (video)

Sonny Long

By Sonny Long
Oct. 9, 2013 at 5:09 a.m.
Updated Oct. 10, 2013 at 5:10 a.m.

Clayton Lantz, of Cuero, holds Chitchat, a turkey he says fills in during public appearances for racing turkey Ruby Begonia in Cuero. The group is currently preparing to race Ruby Begonia on Saturday at Turkeyfest.

CUERO - If it's not broken, don't fix it.

That's the philosophy the Ruby Begonia race team is taking into the second leg of the Great Gobbler Gallop on Saturday during Turkeyfest in Cuero.

Ruby won the first leg in Worthington, Minn., in September in a time of 1:18.12 while Paycheck, the Worthington entry, waddled to the finish line more than four minutes later at 5:56.3.

"We're doing the same thing we did before the race in Minnesota," said Terri Warwas, coach of Ruby's race team. "She has been at the training camp working her tail feathers off, and now, she's in relaxing mode. She's at the spa today."

Joining Warwas on the team are captain Clayton Lantz and handlers Clint Clark and Mary Beth Finney.

Paycheck team coach Brian Almberg said the Minnesota bird and his team are ready for the challenge of overcoming Ruby's big lead.

"We have a lot of time to make up, but anything can happen," said Almberg.

Joining Almberg on Paycheck's race team are Amanda Walljasper, Jami Cummings and Jason Vote.

Almberg added that Paycheck's team has been working to tame the bird down some.

"We wanted to take some of the Adrian Peterson out of him," said the coach, referring to the Minnesota Vikings' hard-charging running back.

In addition, Paycheck has put on a pound or two since the September race.

"We've had him on sort of an all-rest, all-eat regimen," said Almberg.

"We've packed a good 12 to 13 pounds of solid fat on him, and it's seemed to have slowed him down quite a bit. He looks and moves like a Sumo wrestler."

Almberg is hoping slow and steady wins the race.

"We want to keep him cool in the Texas heat, so a slow, methodical pace with no penalties is what we're looking for this time," he said. "There's not a whole heck of a lot of science that goes into turkey racing. Anything can happen."

Warwas, too, knows this is true.

"We can't be too overconfident even with a big lead. We all know it's not over until October," she said.

The times of both legs of the race are combined to determine the winner, who takes home the Traveling Turkey Trophy of Tumultuous Triumph. The loser settles for the Circulating Cup of Consummate Commiseration.

Ruby Begonia won in 2012, but Paycheck leads all-time, 22-18.

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