Persuasive Paul wins the Turf Paradise.

Persuasive Paul wins the Turf Paradise.

Coady Photography

Persuasive Paul Captures Turf Paradise Derby

Doug O'Neill trainee draws clear in late for first stakes win Feb. 23 in Arizona.

Favored Persuasive Paul and Joe Steiner made it look easy as they posted a 3 3/4-length victory in the $75,000 Turf Paradise Derby Feb. 23 (VIDEO).

Drawing clear of Brokered at the eighth pole, the 2-1 pick Persuasive Paul glided away to an easy victory in his stakes debut for trainer Doug O'Neill.

Brokered was a clear second by 2 1/2 lengths, with Tiz Fitting third in the field of nine 3-year-olds. The top three finishers shipped in from California.

Persuasive Paul was bumped at the start but recovered to race close to the pace on the inside. He awaited room on the far turn before angling out to rally three abreast into the stretch. The winner took command inside the furlong pole and drew off under the Southern California veteran Steiner.

"He's was very relaxed out there," said Steiner. "When I asked he accelerated. It was worth the trip."

Owned by John Fuller, Persuasive Paul covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.16 for his first stakes win. The son of Olmodavor out of the Lure mare Witch of the Air posted his second win from six starts while boosting his earnings to $93,490.

He was coming off a sixth-place finish, some 25 lengths behind recent Southwest Stakes (gr. III) winner Super Ninety Nine , in a one-mile allowance optional claiming race at Santa Anita Park Jan. 31.

Bred in Florida by William J. Kearns, Persuasive Paul was a $1,500 buy at the 2011 Ocala Breeders Sales Co.'s Janaury mixed sale. The dark bay or brown colt sold for $2,500 in the OBS select and open yearling sale later in the year, and was purchased once more for $45,000 at OBS as a 2-year-old last June.

The winner paid $6.60, $3.60, $3. Third choice Brokered, trained by Craig Dollase for West Point Thoroughbreds, returned $3.60 and $3 with Scott Stevens aboard. The exacta was worth $27.40. Tiz Fitting, ridden by Christian Santiago Reyes, was $4 to show.

Stoneridge finished fourth, followed by Mark, Red Zeus, Glenco Kid, Hard Nine, and We Can Be Heroes.