Del Mar-based race horse owners Bill and Margie Strauss relish summers here

By Julie Sarno


Bill and Margie Strauss are enjoying a great summer at the races. The Del Mar couple won the $85,000 Sandy Blue Handicap with Mizdirection on Aug. 19 at the seaside track. Earlier in August, their Turbulent Descent won the Grade 1 Test Stakes at Saratoga in New York state.

The couple was on hand to enjoy both wins. Though the couple is from New York originally, Margie had never been to the upstate New York track. Needless to say, her review of her first visit was favorable. The couple was at trainer Mike Puype’s barn at Del Mar recently, relaxing and enjoying their horses along with bloodstock agent Alex Solis II, son of the prominent jockey.

“Alex is a prodigy at selecting horses,” enthused Bill Strauss. “The first horse he ever bought for us was The Pamplemousse.”

The Pamplemousse, a striking gray, was named for the award-winning local restaurant of Bill’s brother, chef-owner Jeffery Strauss, also a partner in many of the runners. The colt was selected by Solis and purchased in 2008 for $150,000 at a Two-Year-Old in Training sale in Florida.

The Pamplemousse excited California fans as one of the early favorites for the 2009 Kentucky Derby. The colt won the San Rafael Stakes (Grade 3) at Santa Anita, leading from wire to wire in his first start at three. He thrilled the crowd winning the Sham Stakes (Grade 3) by an electrifying six lengths in his next start.

The Pamplemousse was the morning line favorite for one of the final Kentucky Derby prep races, the Santa Anita Derby (Grade 1), and was scratched the day of the race because of an injury. He won three races from five lifetime starts and earned $209,280, racing for Bienstock and Winner Stables, Alex Solis II, Jeff Strauss, Tom Lenner, Tom Murray and Skyline Stable. Now retired, the stallion was syndicated by Solis and stands at Rancho San Miguel near San Miguel, Calif.

Long before owning racehorses was on the horizon, Margie and Bill met at Syracuse University. Bill earned a degree in accounting and Margie in interior design. Bill is a successful local entrepreneur. After a high-powered career in Manhattan, Strauss was recruited by a West Coast-based firm and the couple moved to Del Mar in 1992. Bill’s company is Provide Commerce, one of the nation’s leading e-commerce companies. It includes the well-known brands, Red Envelope, Personal Creations and Shari’s Berries. Shari’s Berries, for instance, sells gourmet hand-dipped berries, cookies and cakes which are ordered online.

The couple has two children, daughter Allie works in Manhattan. Son Steven enters his junior year this fall at Columbia University in New York. Their son excelled in drama during high school at The Bishop’s School in La Jolla, where Margie was active as a volunteer. Steven currently is in London, where he is the first American intern to work in the archives at the National Theatre in London.

The Strausses relish summers when their horses are just a short drive away in the stable area at Del Mar with trainer Puype (pronounced pipey, with a long “e”). Their other runners include Orientatious, a winner on July 23 at Del Mar and 2-year-olds by City Zip and Tapit, expected to start later this fall. Del Mar fans have not seen Turbulent Descent, the best of the current group. Three-year-old Turbulent Descent has won six races from eight starts and a total of $828,350.

How did Turbulent Descent get her name? Owner Bill Strauss recounted that when the filly was on the flight from Florida to California, the plane encountered some turbulence. “When she arrived at the barn, her front ankle was all torn up and bloody. It’s a credit to Mike Puype that she made it to the races at all.”

The Strausses own 25 percent of Turbulent Descent. With the help of Solis, they bought into the filly after her maiden win. Turbulent Descent was originally purchased by Blinkers On Racing Stable for $160,000 at the 2010 Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company’s April Sale of Two-Year-Olds in Training in Florida. Turbulent Descent’s victories include an impressive three Grade 1 races, the Hollywood Starlet Stakes, the Santa Anita Oaks and the recent Test Stakes.

What is the next outing for Turbulent Descent? Unless an overnight race is written for her in early October, Puype will train the filly up to the prestigious Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (Grade 1) on Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs. The race is run at seven furlongs, and Turbulent Descent is undefeated in three starts at that distance.

The Del Mar stable star is Mizdirection. The Strausses own Mizdirection in partnership with Jungle Racing and Peterson. Three-year-old Mizdirection has proven consistent for the partnership, winning two races from five starts and finishing second in her other outings. She ran second in the Manhattan Beach at Hollywood and in the San Clemente (G2) on opening weekend at Del Mar. Her earnings to date are $136,340. Mizdirection, a 3-year-old daughter of Mizzen Mast, was purchased for $50,000 by Alex Solis Bloodstock at Fasig Tipton’s Midlantic Two-Year-Olds in 2010.