"I have always seen John Kerry as the Seabiscuit of this race. He's back at the third corner and he sees the wire and there goes Seabiscuit by the time they see him, nobody can catch him," said Mr Cleland.
Dennis Kucinich, the Ohio congressman, has also portrayed himself as "the Seabiscuit candidate", saying that, like the racehorse made famous by a book and then a film last year, he will burst "from the back of the pack".
When Howard Dean's campaign faltered last week as he lost his lead in the opinion polls following a third place showing in Iowa and a rallying rant to his supporters, Mr Dean's staff also were making the Seabiscuit analogy.
Elections are always something of a horserace. And it was New Hampshire where a discredited Bill Clinton in 1992 had the better-than-expected showing that prompted him to claim he was the "comeback kid". He went on to oust an incumbent President George H. W. Bush.
So perhaps it is no surprise that the first primary election will be held in New Hampshire today and before the first ballot is cast, the 2004 presidential election has already coined its first, over-used political term: the Seabiscuit candidate.
James Harding, "Horseracing cliche really takes the biscuit," Financial Times (London, England), January 27, 2004
Angela Parker-Simkin, "Kucinich's stands merit support," Iowa City Press-Citizen, August 20, 2003
Jim Washburn, "Don't bitch, vote Kucinich!," The OC Weekly, August 1, 2003