Small Discovery Could Mean Progress for Future Reef |By Jay Cook |RED BANK – Eastern oysters in the Navesink River have been elusive to environmentalists since disease wiped out the reefs in the mid-1990s.But a recent small discovery may give those advocates reason to cheer.The encounter came on March 31, just a few hours after the sun rose on a Sunday morning. Bill Carton and a crew of fellow members from the Monmouth Boat Club, a private boating club in Red Bank along the Navesink River, were conducting quadrennial inspections of their mooring lines in the river. When Carton’s own mushroom anchor came up, it was carrying a familiar 4-inch-long inhabitant – one of those rare eastern oysters.So what exactly does this mean?It has the potential for big things, said American Littoral Society executive director Tim Dillingham, who spearheaded an effort last summer to investigate any signs of natural oysters in the river.“This is not a quixotic adventure. We’re not tilting at windmills here,” an excited Dillingham said this week. “We know this is a great sign that we can do this.”American Littoral Society launched Operation Oyster in June 2017 as a program to find if, and where, there are signs of the eastern oyster in the Navesink River. Oysters have the helpful ability to filter up to 50 gallons of water daily. Re-establishing oyster reefs would be a natural way to clean the Navesink River, which has suffered from poor water quality in recent years from fecal contamination and fertilizer runoff.The environmental group hung hundreds of oyster shell bags from dozens of private docks along the river as they studied to find any indication of oyster “spat” or larvae. Their research ultimately yielded no results after the summer-long initiative concluded in September, but state officials say this discovery will help the local groups going forward.“This is a bit of good news after what I’m sure was a disappointing summer for them,” said Bruce Friedman, director of the Division of Water Monitoring and Standards, an arm of the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). “We’re excited that the Littoral Society is excited and also that they’re seeing something like oyster growth. That is a good sign.”It’s been difficult for environmentalists to pinpoint any hotspot for oyster growth. But Carton, a Monmouth Boat Club member of two decades, and the DEP both say they’ve seen and quantified historical evidence.Between the Molly Pitcher Inn and Marine Park, Carton said clam beds have historically been found in an area 1,500 feet by 1,500 feet underwater. If clams can thrive there, so can oysters, he believes.“There’s a huge clam bed right there in the Navesink River,” Carton said this week. “You can go down there at low tide and pull up huge ones.”Friedman also said shellfish resource stock assessments from the state show there have been “small historic oyster reefs in the upper portion of the Navesink River that we have identified and quantified since the 1980s.”While this recent find is generating excitement, it’s not the first time Monmouth Boat Club staff has found live oysters. In the fall of 2016, Carton and a crew came across a similar situation with an oyster on a mushroom anchor. The only difference, though, was then they only reported it after throwing it back into the river. This time they passed the oyster over to the DEP for analysis.At the Operation Oyster launch last summer, American Littoral Society’s assistant director Pim Van Hemmen said the 2016 Monmouth Boat Club discovery provided enough evidence to launch their program.he 4-inch-long Eastern Oyster recovered by Bill Carton was eventually delivered to the Dept. of Environmental Protection for additional testing.Dillingham said American Littoral Society has been planning to try new methods for Operation Oyster heading into this upcoming season and this newest oyster find only helps their cause. The group will first have the shell bags sit in oyster spat tanks, so the larvae can attach, before rehanging them from the docks. Any oyster growth will be monitored until the shellfish reach a state-mandated 2-inch size limit and must be removed from the water.The ultimate goal of bringing back oyster reefs still stands at the top of Dillingham’s wish list. Other environmental groups like NY/NJ Baykeeper, based in Keyport, have had recent success with building and sustaining man-made oyster reefs along Naval Weapons Station Earle’s 2.9-mile long pier in Leonardo.If American Littoral Society can prove oysters can live in the Navesink, then they’ll gladly go to the DEP with all the evidence it needs to bring reefs in.“We’re going to be looking for the sweet spot where the oysters can grow, provide the benefit to the ecology of the river, do their filtering job and not be in anybody’s way,” said Dillingham.While they’ve been missing for the last two decades, natural oyster reefs were once an integral piece of the Navesink River’s watershed. Up until the mid-20th century, eastern oysters were harvested from the river and sent to some of the more lavish restaurants in New York City.The real end goal, Monmouth Boat Club’s Carton said, is to return the Navesink River to a healthy body of water. He believes that’s the most important issue.“I’m very happy to be part of it and that we’re trying to clean the river,” said Carton. “That’s why I’m a sailor and not a motorboater.”This article was first published in the April 12-19, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.
FLAVIEN PRAT, NEVERADOUBT, WINNER: “(Mike) Puype was pretty confident before the race. I didn’t know this horse but the pace helped him a lot and the track was a little bit soft and that helped as well. The pace was pretty fast so that’s good when you’re behind.“He doesn’t look like he’s got a turn of foot but he’s got one pace. I didn’t think I would win but I thought we would be close, third, second.“There wasn’t any bumping (in response to Rafael Bejarano’s claim of foul) It was pretty tough but he was never tired. He won pretty easy today.”VICTOR ESPINOZA, ZINVOR, FIFTH: “He broke too sharp. There were fast fractions and I was trying to relax him but he was a little bit too keen. The outside horse was pushing me and that’s when he got a little aggressive. I wanted him to break clean and be comfortable either on the lead or behind but be relaxed but that never happened. On the first turn he was working too much, too hard and it was just too much for him.”TRAINER QUOTES MIKE PUYPE, NEVERADOUBT, WINNER: “Flavien rode a great race and saved a lot of ground. Tom Hudson, who manages the horses, wanted to go in the race. Tom said, ‘He should go the distance. He’s doing good.’ But Flavien Prat rode the race and it was a great ride. We just took a shot he could cover the distance.“It was a good ride and patient handling and he did a great job with the horse. He had a big abscess in his foot (right hind) a few weeks ago and it took time to get it taken care of. The shoer did a good job, he put a bar shoe on him and got him to where we could get him back to the track to train and it was wonderful.(On running this kind of race in only his fourth start): “He broke his maiden the first time and what a great ride today. We couldn’t be happier with the event.“The second race on the dirt, he was rank, threw his head and didn’t like the dirt. Third race was an open allowance race; it wasn’t a Cal-Bred race. It was a sprint and it wasn’t that bad of a race. Realistically, handicapping the race, I didn’t think any of these horses were that great at a mile-and-an-eighth. We were just hoping the distance would be the equalizer to allow us to have a chance. Remember this, if you look at the history of the Snow Chief and look at the stats, plenty of longshots and maiden winners have won this. You better believe it. It’s because of the distance. There are a lot of good horses bred in California that are fast but a lot that can’t run the full distance and the distance really helped this horse today.(On the inquiry) “There was nothing there. That was a joke of an inquiry.” NOTES: The winning owners are Donald Patrick of San Luis Obispo (SLO Racing); Tom Hudson; and Tony and Suzie Narducci. JOCKEY QUOTES -30-
Tyler Baze741610722%45%$542,602 John Sadler1854528%78%$254,234 -30- J. Keith Desormeaux1762435%71%$368,675 William Spawr1160255%73%$169,341 Peter Eurton2163029%43%$186,495 GOLDEN STATE GLITTERS AT ECLIPSE AWARDS The Golden State was never more golden than it was Saturday night, after seven horses that call California home won eight Eclipse Awards as best in their divisions for 2016.Heading the list was California Chrome, who was named Horse of the Year and champion Older Male. It was only the second time any horse managed to win multiple Horse of the Year titles in non-consecutive years. Chrome, who also won the honor in 2014, thus joined legendary John Henry, winner in 1981 and 1984.Other California-based champions were Champagne Room, two-year-old female; Arrogate, three-year-old male; Songbird, three-year-old female; Beholder, older female; Drefong, male sprinter; and Finest City, female sprinter.“It just goes to show you how tough it is out here in California,” said Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who conditions Arrogate and Drefong.“We have really good horses and everybody buys fast horses. I appreciated that I did get 20-some votes (actually 21, good for second to runaway winner Chad Brown with 208) for (outstanding) trainer, which is pretty good.“I used to get five votes, and Jill (his wife) told me five years ago the only way I could win again was to part the Red Sea or win the Triple Crown, and she was right.”Baffert, who braved wet, wintry conditions Sunday morning at Clockers’ Corner, did the latter in 2015, masterminding Horse of the Year American Pharoah to a Triple Crown sweep, the first in 37 years.Arrogate was a finalist for Horse of the Year along with Chrome, but finished a distant second, 202 to 40. Arrogate was, however, named champion three-year-old male with 243 of the 248 votes, far outdistancing finalists Nyquist (two), who won the Kentucky Derby, and Exaggerator (also two), winner of the Santa Anita Derby and the Preakness Stakes.“It takes a superior performance to beat a Kentucky Derby winner like Nyquist, who was undefeated going into the race,” Baffert said. “A horse has to do something special.”Arrogate assuredly did that, winning the Grade I Travers by 13 ½ lengths in track record time and defeating California Chrome in a memorable Breeders’ Cup Classic, giving Baffert an unprecedented third straight win in the marquee World Championship event.“We work very hard to compete at the top level, win big races and championships; that’s always our goal,” Baffert said. “I’m proud of our team and what we’ve accomplished.“We were hoping for Horse of the Year but I guess we came to the party too late.”Meanwhile, Baffert plans to ship Arrogate Tuesday from Santa Anita to Gulfstream Park for Saturday’s $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational and a highly anticipated rematch with California Chrome, who was overtaken in deep stretch by Arrogate in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Nov. 5, falling a half-length short of victory.“I’m happy we got that work into him yesterday but we’ve still got a lot of hurdles to overcome,” Baffert said. “We’ve got to ship, he’s got to stay healthy, he’s got to draw well; that will be crucial as well as the break.“But work-wise, we got all we wanted, so we’re going in treating it like another race.” GOLDEN STATE GOLDEN AT ECLIPSE AWARDSCAL-BREDS VIE FOR $1 MILLION ON SATURDAYCHAMP FINEST CITY EYES GRASSY BUENA VISTA Kent Desormeaux47106621%47%$679,723 Rafael Bejarano55781013%45%$531,953 Bob Baffert2653419%46%$398,246 Mike Smith2061430%55%$605,940 Flavien Prat711771124%49%$908,103 Martin Pedroza4266614%43%$222,428 Jerry Hollendorfer4898819%52%$743,684 Richard Baltas4469514%45%$374,358 Drayden Van Dyke5059210%32%$319,441 (Current Through Saturday, Jan. 21) Peter Miller3178423%61%$363,550 TrainerMts1st2nd3rdWin%ITM%Money Won SANTA ANITA STATISTICS JockeyMts1st2nd3rdWin%ITM%Money Won Norberto Arroyo, Jr.5074214%26%$331,230 Doug O’Neill56691011%45%$382,468 Luis Contreras43581012%53%$260,539 Philip D’Amato2454521%58%$439,575 ENOLA GRAY SET FOR SUNSHINE MILLIONS RACEEnola Gray, undefeated in her only start on Santa Anita’s downhill turf course, is set to explode next Saturday in the $150,000 Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf Sprint at about 6 ½ furlongs over the same venue.“I think she likes the hill,” said Phil D’Amato, who trains the four-year-old Grazen filly for owner/breeder Nick Alexander. “She’s one for one on it; hopefully she’ll make it two for two.”Enola Gray won the California Distaff Handicap at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf Oct. 15.She worked five furlongs Saturday between races on a fast main track in 59.60.The Filly & Mare Turf Sprint is one of five stakes Saturday in the Golden State Series for California-bred or sired horses, offering a total of $1 million in purse money.The others are the $150,000 Donald Valpredo California Cup Sprint; the $200,000 California Oaks; the $250,000 California Cup Derby; and the $250,000 California Cup Turf Classic presented by City National Bank.FINISH LINES: Trainer Ian Kruljac said Sunday morning that Eclipse Award female sprint champion Finest City, winner of Saturday’s Grade II Santa Monica Stakes at seven furlongs on a wet/fast track in her five-year-old debut, could make her next start on grass in the Grade II Buena Vista Stakes at one mile on Feb. 18 . . . Santa Anita is dark for live racing Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Live action resumes Thursday at 1 p.m. Admission gates open at 11 a.m. Stewart Elliott5166812%39%$227,560