also ran

also-ran

Someone who is unimportant or unsuccessful. The phrase originated in horse racing. That guy is definitely an also-ran—his best days in the league are far behind him.

also ran

A loser. The term comes from late nineteenth-century horse racing, where it signified a horse that ran a race but failed to win, place, or show. It was later broadened to any kind of competitor—in an election or other contest—who lost.
See also: also, ran