For five years running, the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo won the PRCA’s Large Indoor Rodeo of the Year. Not only that, it’s the kickoff event for the Wrangler Million Dollar Tour. Along with RodeoHouston, (at which the bulk of the prize money goes to one person or team per event), San Antonio is the most important rodeo from the beginning of the season until Reno and the Fourth of July run.
Winning San Antonio all but guarantees an NFR berth. With that in mind, cowboys approach this rodeo differently. The best evidence of that was in the team roping, where Colby Siddoway and Matt Zancanella made their play for the NFR with a 4.9-second run and came away from San Antonio $18,148 richer.
The format is unlike any other. Entries are limited to 48 per event based on last year’s standings and the top five from 2010. There are four brackets and cowboys compete in four consecutive performances.
Based only on money won, the top five from each bracket advance to a semifinal round—scores and times do not carry over. From there, the top 12 in total money won advance to the finals, where the slate is wiped clean. Once in the finals, the payout is top-heavy. The winner of the short round made $12,445, second was worth $9,334, third is worth $6,223 and fourth paid $3,111.
In professional team roping, these circumstances usually result in a slinging contest and that’s just what happened. The idea is to create drama and force contestants to expose themselves. In all events other than team roping, this results in spectacular rides and equally spectacular buck offs and wrecks.
In team roping, it results in misses. In fact, only half the teams in the short go posted qualified times. It began with Steve Purcella and Jhett Johnson roping their steer in 5.4, then JoJo LeMond and Randon Adams and five other teams missed. Tommy Edens and Justin Hendrick posted a 5.0, as did Travis Tryan and Michael Jones.
As second-high team back, Siddoway and Zancanella had a clear picture of what it would take to win.
"I knew we had to get out of the barrier and go at him," Siddoway said. "I made sure I saw the start, and the steer was right there and gave me a pretty easy throw. My horse went left and that fence came so fast I couldn’t get him up the wall and I wasn’t even looking at my heeler when he threw. Then I looked up and he had him around the flank and we were tight."
Except for Zancanella, almost everyone in the arena—including the flagger and his header—thought he had only caught a leg.
"I thought he had a leg," Siddoway said.
Zancanella jerked his hat off and started to celebrate when he noticed the flagger had signaled for a plus-five penalty. Immediately, Zancanella put his hat back on and just as he began to protest, the flagger realized he had two feet and waived off the penalty.
"When the steer switched and he came up, I just set her down there and was hoping he’d get in it," Zancanella said. "It came tight around the guts. I seen it come on. It feels great to be in a clutch situation and actually pull it off."
Only the on-fire duo of Keven Daniel and Brad Culpepper remained, but after a neck catch from Daniel and a missed left leg from Culpepper, Siddoway and Zancanella knew the title was theirs. What’s more, the goal they’d been working toward for two years, making the NFR, was suddenly looked less like a dream and more like reality.
"Last year was the first year I tried to get back," said Zancanella who has made the trip to Las Vegas three times. "We had a heck of a summer, but there at the end we couldn’t put anything together to make the Tour Finale to make it work. I got enough money won where I could go to San Antonio and Houston. I just hope it rolls on, it’s a heck of a way to start."
Siddoway, 26, finished 24th in the world last year roping with Zancanella, who finished 21st. In his young career, he’s roped with Austin Adams and Justin Copp, but never finished out of the top 40.
"I’ve known Matt for a long time," he said. "Up there at Billings a couple years ago, we talked about roping. So we decided to do it and went at them last year. We had a chance right there toward the end of the summer and I crippled my good horse and didn’t make the Tour Finales and just struggled and fell off at the end."
Zancanella, who took the 2006-2008 seasons to develop a company called Pro Earth Products that sells environmentally friendly cleaning products used in the agricultural industry, is excited to be on the road again with Siddoway.
"He’s a young and upcoming header, he’s been around for a while, but he’s just never had a chance," he said. "Now he’s got a great horse—a couple of them—and he’s a contender."
The horse is a 10-year-old gelding named Biscuit Zancanella found for him.
"Matt got him from a guy in South Dakota last spring and I started heading on him, he’d never been headed on, they heeled on him," Siddoway said. "So I got him started heading for about a month and then just cracked him out. He was a little green, but now he’s had enough runs he’s starting to put it together and stay consistent."
On the other end, Zancanella is riding a nine-year-old.
"That’s a horse I call The Bean," he said. "He’s nine, he’s not real flashy, but he works good for me."
In a revolving cast of the top 15 team ropers, Siddoway and Zancanella hope that the win in San Antonio cements them in the upper echelon.
In other San Antone news, Bull rider Ardie Maier from Timber Lake, S.D., won more than any other competitor in San Antonio when he won the bull riding and $19,964.
Prior to San Antonio’s rodeo, Maier was ranked 23rd in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association with earnings of $7,862. Adding nearly $20,000 to that will better his position substantially. However, that wasn’t the only reason he was happy about riding Andrews Rodeo Company’s Cyclone.
"I watched that bull step on my traveling partner Taylor Cowan’s leg at the first Xtreme Bulls here," Maier said. "When I saw my name beside his on the list, I thought it would be sweet revenge to ride him."
And ride him he did. Maier’s 94-point ride is one point off of the arena record of 95 set by former world champion B.J. Schumacher in 2004.
In the saddle bronc riding, J.J. Elshere won $18,159 and the San Antonio title. Elshere is coming off a win at the National Western Stock Show Rodeo in Denver, where he rode Calgary Stampede’s Labeled Money. In San Antonio, he rode that horse’s half brother Knife Money for 88 points.
Bareback rider Micky Downare from Hartsel, Colo., had the biggest win of his career in San Antonio after riding Calgary Stampede’s Mad Money for 88 points and winning $18,408.