Uptown Lad has brushed off a pre-race drama and a sluggish start to book a place in next month's $500,000 Provincial Championship final at Randwick.
The Kim Waugh-trained four-year-old gelding justified his $2.60 favouritism for the Hawkesbury Provincial Championships Qualifier (1400m) with a strong finishing burst following twin setbacks.
"Before the gates opened he pulled a shoe and then he missed the start and was a mile off them," Waugh said.
"If we got beat I'd have said what an unbelievable run, so to fight back and win was sensational."
Uptown Lad surged home out wide to beat the David Aitkens-trained Plaisir ($17) by a short half-head.
Bastia ($12) joined stablemate and Provincial Championships favourite Just Dreaming in the field for Newcastle trainer Kris Lees by taking third, 1-3/4 lengths further back.
Apprentice Jean Van Overmeire never doubted Uptown Lad would surge late, thought the win was still bittersweet.
He opted for the Hawkesbury meeting, thinking the Jean Dubois- trained Aylmerton would race in the Sunday's Group Three Black Opal Stakes.
However, the two-year-old colt raced at Randwick and won the Group Two Todman Stakes lead-in to the Golden Slipper.
"I was having a little cry to everyone in the (jockeys) room. How's my luck? I've missed out on a Group winner," Van Overmeire.
"At this stage of my career it could have been very exciting."