Turning $2 into $27K on the amazing Zenyatta

As everybody knows, Zenyatta is the greatest thing to happen to Southern California racing since the Pick 6.

And her popularity is only rising. During the 2009 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes last year, 20,335 racetrackers showed up at Del Mar.

But after Zenyatta’s scintillating Breeder’s Cup Classic win at Santa Anita last November and her 17-for-17 record, undefeated Zenyatta went for number 18 before 32,536 people in Saturday’s running of the Hirsch.  And Big Z didn’t disappoint.

Although floated six paths wide on the turn, Zenyatta rallied into a brutally slow pace to prevail by a neck. Afterward, jockey Mike Smith paraded her up and down the front stretch, while tens of thousands of transfixed onlookers wildly applauded the 6-year-old mare from the Del Mar grandstand, YouTube videos showed.

The post-race celebration came together like a scripted scene from “Seabiscuit.” But it wasn’t.

It was reality.

Paris Hilton

In fact, Zenyatta has now become a celebrity on par with Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian. Zenyatta won’t be hosting any night club openings in Vegas, but like Hilton and Kardashian, Zenyatta’s mere presence attracts huge crowds of exuberant followers.

With the victory, owner Jerry Moss pocketed another $180,000 to bring Zenyatta’s career earnings to $6.25 million. But what about the betting public? Can they make any money by betting Zenyatta?

It seems the logical answer is “not much” because Zenyatta’s odds return so little to winners. But Del Mar’s morning line maker Russell Hudak figured out that a measly $2 parlay of Zenyatta’s 18 victories would have returned $27,248.28.

Of course, whoever had this kind of amazing foresight into Zenyatta’s career would also need to be wired with nerves of steel. That’s because the Zenyatta parlay would have required that the bettor plunk down $24,768 before Saturday’s win.

Indeed, the concept of compound interest is so powerful it has turned teenagers with nothing into billionaires by age 60. And I’m sure that even investor Warren Buffett would be one of Zenyatta’s biggest fans if the horse helped him roll $2 into $27K.

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