King of the cloverleaf: Zancanella develops Royal Crown Futurity to showcase stallions |

King of the cloverleaf: Zancanella develops Royal Crown Futurity to showcase stallions

Royal Crown is designed by breeders, for breeders. Photo courtesy Matt Zancanella

The performance horse world is ever-evolving into an elite industry, yielding opportunities unheard-of in previous years. In particular, barrel horse futurities provide the opportunity not only for the horse and rider to gain recognition, but also breeders and stallion owners.

Royal Crown Barrel Racing Futurity promises big events and bigger payouts, with the breeders in mind.

The idea for a differently-formatted futurity was born of Matt Zancanella of Aurora, South Dakota. Zancanella is a professional rodeo cowboy, the owner of Pro-Earth Animal Health, and the co-owner of stallion Lion Share of Fame, giving him both wisdom of the industry and a head for business.

“It’s a stallion fund that I wanted to come up with that had a wow factor to it. The Pink Buckle’s got wow factor and I think there needs to be more wow factor in the barrel racing industry. Especially if we’re going to get these people to go spend all this money that we need to make our programs work,” he said.

There are no nomination fees. Zancanella’s own experience as a breeder influenced this new innovation. “I’ve been in the breeding business for 14 years now and nomination fees–when you have 20-25 mares–it becomes a financial burden. Because which ones do you not put in the program?” he said. “I’m trying to give [breeders] an opportunity as well, so when they go to decide what stud they want to breed to, they’ve got some perks in what’s going to happen with the Royal Crown.”

The futurity boasts total financial transparency. “I’m not making a dime off of what the stallion owners bring to the table. It’s 100% payback. We are taking $100,000 out for advertising purposes and we are taking $50,000 out for an open 4D at our event,” he said.

Another unique quality of the Royal Crown Futurity is the limit at 100 stallions, making a membership in the futurity exclusive. “I’m really trying to help the industry. I’m in the industry, I’m trying to sell colts. I feel like I’ve got a really nice horse. I want to have a value in my colts, so if there’s 100 stallions and I never let another stallion in, there’s value,” said Zancanella.

To further grow the industry, Zancanella has plans to market futurity colts. “We’re going to have a sale at our event,” he said. Breeders and owners may sell three colts at the sale with no catalog fees. “Yes, there is an 8 percent sale fee, but that’s pretty much about every option you go to.” An additional incentive is featured at the sale: “We’re going to do a side pot on our colts that are in the program that are bought at the sale. Our goal is to have $125,000 side pot,” he said.

Furthermore, marketing the featured stallions is a priority for Royal Crown. The team has plans to use allocated funds for televised, magazine, and social media advertising. Levi and Lindsey O’Keefe of Belle Fourche, South Dakota play a large part in production. “I couldn’t have done it without them. They did the stuff that I didn’t have time to do. I shoot my ideas at them and Lindsey makes it happen. She’s been the reason we’ve been really prompt on getting our information out. That’s something we want to pride ourselves on is getting our information out to the people,” Zancanella said.

Still in its adolescence, the Royal Crown holds the membership of 52 out of 100 stallions thus far. With practicality in mind, memberships may be paid in four installments, instead of a fee of $12,500 up front. Memberships will be accepted until Feb. 1, at which time investors may nominate stallions for the Royal Crown with the owner’s permission.

With the ball rolling, the Royal Crown has large, but attainable goals for the future of the futurity. Their first event will be Aug. 4-9, in Rock Springs, Wyoming. Side pots at other notable barrel races will be announced soon. Zancanella plans for 5 side pots at $25,000 before August.

Zancanella is confident in Royal Crown’s production of both excellent offspring and elite events. “Once I get the numbers up and get 400-500 colts coming to my futurity, my goal is to have a million dollar open,” he said. The program’s simple goal whether rider, owner, or breeder, is to “make it to where people can make money with their horses.”

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