A life-long fan of Thoroughbred horse racing, Shinpoch served on the Washington Horse Racing Commission between 1993 and 2002. Shinpoch, who was married to former Washington State Senator Al "Bud" Shinpoch, was instrumental in helping Emerald Downs get started. She was the chairwoman of the commission when the law was passed in 1994 allowing the track to be built. "Without Barbara steadfastly hanging in there (Emerald Downs) wouldn't be here," Emerald Downs president Ron Crockett said. "She was as significant as anyone in helping Thoroughbred racing survive in Western Washington and was a true leader during the transition years between Longacres and Emerald. Barbara will always be remembered as the one who saved Thoroughbred racing in the state."
In honor of Shinpoch and her invaluable contributions to the sport of racing in Washington, Emerald Downs renamed their 2-year-old filly championship the Barbara Shinpoch Stakes three years ago. In addition to her work in the Thoroughbred industry, Shinpoch also was the first female mayor of the City of Renton.