picks two weeks ago, the second time in four years he's nailed the race's top-three finishers.) But getting to this point was a long road.

Doctors were hopeful they'd successfully extracted the cancerous portion of his colon but strongly recommended further treatment. The oncologist didn't know Olczyk's history handicapping horses when she said, "Look, if you wanna take your chances and gamble and not take the chemo-," Olczyk recalled. "I said, 'You're talking to the wrong guy if you want to get into gambling and odds.' Is this more like Justify or like Exaggerator a couple years ago in the Preakness?"

He chuckles now. In truth, back in August, he barely heard a word the doctor said. He was still recovering from surgery and couldn't even begin chemotherapy until Sept. 11. He confronted the fear the same way he was able to grind out a 16-year playing career, followed by a successful run broadcasting in the booth and a stint coaching on the bench: He immediately started plotting out goals.