West Virginia horse decides he wants to go home — before the race ends

River Crosroad Rvf "just thought he was going back to his barn" and decided not to finish the 6 1/2 furlong sprint.

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By David K. Li

A West Virginia colt went off the rails Thursday night and completely bailed out of a race he was about to win by a huge margin.

Three-year-old River Crosroad Rvf entered the home stretch with an insurmountable seven-length lead when he suddenly bolted off the track, shocking everyone watching and betting the seventh race at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races.

The colt, in only his second career race, exited through a cutout where horses typically leave the track after morning workouts.

"So best guess is that the horse just thought he was going back to his barn," track Vice President Erich Zimny said Friday. "They certainly can be creatures of habit."

The colt has had a history of struggling to maintain focus, and was wearing blinkers on Thursday night to block out distractions, trainer Jeff Runco said.

River Crosroad Rvf - who at 9-to-5 odds was the maiden race's second favorite - was examined and given a clean bill of health, according to Runco. By Friday morning, the colt was in good spirits and didn't seem to recall how he so spectacularly lost hours earlier.

"He's a great little horse with all kinds of energy," Runco told NBC News. "He was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed this morning like, 'So what happened last night?' "