Over the years, horse racing investments have grown from deals handled by individual investors into larger deals handled by investment groups. The same is true for Broadway theater: whereas individual producers once handled the funding for a show, it can now take several producers, sometimes well in excess of a dozen, to get a show off the ground.

And increasingly, horse racing and Broadway shows have developed a common threat: they are being funded by the same people.

As featured in The Wall Street Journal, more and more Broadway investors find themselves drawn to horse racing -- and vice-versa. Philip S. Birsh, who is CEO of the Playbill company that produces the publications dispensed at Broadway productions, owns a New York colt named Tencendur, who will be in competition in this year's Kentucky Derby.

Meanwhile, Broadway investors with Tony Award credentials find themselves joining financial partnerships such as Donegal Racing, and Iowa-based horse racing venture that will field multiple horses this year, including contenders at the Kentucky Derby.

One common thread between the two investment types is the risks against the rate-of-return. Both Broadway theater and horse racing offer the high-risk of failure -- but big payoffs for a select few.

"About 20 percent of shows earn their money back, and about 20 percent of racehorses earn their keep,” said one investment expert to the Journal.

Combine the slim prospects of a return with the millions required to fund a single stage production or racehorse, and it quickly becomes an endeavor for the rich. Increasingly, those monied parties are organizing into groups that split the costs -- and potential earnings -- among numerous individuals.

Even so, success often depends on a few critical factors, such as the trainers and jockeys for horses, along with directors and actors.

Bad information or a critical error in hiring, and that investment -- whether horse or stage play -- can quickly crash and burn.

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