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.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
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.
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer