Too Darn Hot was upstaged by Telecaster after a sustained duel for Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes at York.
Last season's champion European two-year-old gave his all - but his Derby dreams were ended as Telecaster took the spoils in the hands of Oisin Murphy for trainer Hughie Morrison.
Too Darn Hot's stablemate Turgenev set a strong pace and was shadowed by Telecaster, with the pair having the field well stretched out for a long way.Frankie Dettori had Too Darn Hot settled nicely in fourth and he was produced at the right time to make his challenge, only to find Telecaster (7/1) refusing to buckle in the closing stages as he stuck to his guns to beat the even-money favourite by a length.
Surfman stayed on well for third place, and while Aidan O'Brien suffered a rare reverse in the Classic trials as Japan failed to get in a serious blow, finishing a near six-length fourth.
If there is to be a Derby winner in a trial often considered the most reliable, it will require improvement from an also-ran or for the winner to be supplemented as he does not currently hold an entry.
The runner-up will now drop back to a mile for the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot with John Gosden telling ITV Racing: "We had a pacemaker to set a nice even pace and cleverly Oisin used that on the winner. Frankie was settling Too Darn Hot. He was strong, pulling him for four furlongs, he’s fresh it was his first run of the year and he’d had two weeks just walking.
“Frankie was clear he gave him a lot to do but he got there and said afterwards 'John, stamina'. Obviously there was the lack of a race before but the stamina in the last furlong was telling. The winner is a lovely horse, by a Derby winner out of an Oaks second. He’s seen the trip out well and he’ll go the Derby.
"We came here for a trial and we have the answer to that very clearly. We'l freshen up and go to the St Jame’s Palace Stakes over a mile on the opening day of Royal Ascot.”
Morrison was understandably thrilled with the performance of Telecaster. He said: "We've done it the hard way, haven't we? We first hard to grind down the pacemaker and usually after that they get picked off. After going two furlongs I nearly put my glasses down and thought we'd burnt our boats by going too quick, but Oisin got it right.
"Too Darn Hot obviously needed the race and we've had runs this year, so that is to our advantage, but he (Telecaster) is obviously a pretty special horse. It's been a big team effort as he is quite keen and on his toes, but that's him and that's what makes him so good. I haven't a clue how good he is. I've had nothing like him before and there's nothing I've got at home that can go with him, but I don't need one as he does plenty."
Telecaster was previously taken out of the Derby and will now need to be supplemented at a cost of £85,000. Morrison is keen to let the dust settle before committing to a run in the premier Classic.
He added: "That (Derby) is the way you would like to think, but it's 16 days away and he's had more than a racecourse gallop today. It's a big call. He looked a very good horse today, but we'll sit down and discuss it and give it a few days. I think one would be put off less to go for the Derby than you would other races, but it's fast ground out there and that takes its toll as well."
On the decision to previously take his stable star out of the Derby, he said: "In March we hadn't run. We discussed it and said we didn't have the experience for the Derby.
"We had a serious chat about it, but who could have dreamed we'd have been here today? There are probably worse mistakes to make."
Sky Bet cut Telecaster to 5/1 from 20s for the Investec Derby, Racing PR Manager Michael Shinners saying: "Telecaster was a very impressive winner and has seriously thrown his hat into the Epsom ring.
"He showed tactical speed and then a really willingly attitude to suggest he’s a major player in next month’s Classic assuming he is supplemented."
Of the horses behind the first two, Roger Varian said of Surfman: "I'm pleased with the run, whether we go for the Derby or not we've got time to decide, but what we do know is that we've got a very nice horse on our hands."
O'Brien said of Japan: "We're very happy. He was just ready for a race, which is why we came here today. Ryan (Moore) was always going to look after him, he was happy and the lads will decide if he goes to Epsom. He's still in the picture. We came to get a run in and that's what he did. There's no decision on Sir Dragonet yet (Chester Vase winner, another who needs to be supplemented), I'd imagine the lads will wait until closer to the time."