By Brian DiDonato
Talented West Coast invader Midnight Storm (Pioneerof the Nile) looms an ominous presence in Saturday's $750,000 GII Oaklawn H. in Hot Springs. The versatile speedster–a Grade I winner on the grass and third in last year's GI Breeders' Cup Mile–has turned in three strong efforts since returning to the dirt. He crushed an overmatched bunch by 7 3/4 lengths in the GIII Native Diver S. going this nine-furlong distance in Del Mar's Native Diver S. Nov. 27, and made short work of the GII San Pasqual S. Jan. 1 He nearly ran away with the GI Santa Anita H. back in Arcadia Mar. 11, but was reeled in in the final strides by Shaman Ghost (Ghostzapper) in that 10-furlong affair. Todd Pletcher seeks his third victory in this race with millionaire Madefromlucky (Lookin At Lucky), who was second and fourth, respectively behind American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile) in the 2015 GII Rebel S. and GI Arkansas Derby here. The 5-year-old finished third–one spot behind hard-knocking 9-year-old Domains' Rap (Cherokee Rap)–in the Essex H. here Mar. 18. Texas Chrome (Grasshopper) annexed the GIII Super Derby and GIII Oklahoma Derby going this distance last September, and makes his first start since fading in the GI Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile Nov. 4. He was third in the Bachelor S. sprinting here last April.